US Announces End to Iran Oil Import Waivers
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Trump administration announced that all countries that continue to import Iranian oil will be subject to US sanctions.
In a statement on Monday, the White House said US President Donald Trump "has decided not to reissue" waivers regarding sanctions against countries importing Iranian oil when the waivers expire "in early May."
The exact deadline is May 2.
"This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read.
Countries that continue to import Iranian oil in large amounts include India, China, South Korea, Japan and Turkey. Ahead of today's announcement South Korean officials told CNN that they had struggled with the US demand because their oil refineries are specifically set up to process crude oil from Iran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to "ensure an appropriate supply (of oil) for the markets" in order to make up for the loss of Iranian oil in the global market.
"I can confirm that each of those suppliers are working directly with Iran's former customers to make the transition away from Iranian crude less disruptive," he said.
After the announcement from the US, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said the country will coordinate with other oil producers "to ensure the availability of enough oil supplies for consumers and to ensure global oil markets are not knocked off balance."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move Monday.
"The decision of President Trump and the American administration is of great importance to increase the pressure on the terror regime of Iran," Netanyahu said in a statement. "We stand by the determination of the United States against the Iranian aggression and this is the right way to stop it."
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu firmly rejected the Trump administration decision on Monday, saying via Twitter that "the US decision to end sanctions waivers on Iran oil imports will not serve regional peace and stability yet will harm Iranian people. Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbors."
He went further during a press conference in Ankara, saying that "pushing buying oil from countries besides Iran goes too far. Turkey is against those steps and impositions," according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
A senior Iraqi official said Monday that Trump's decision to end waivers for the purchase of Iranian oil exports, and pressure Iraq to end its purchase of Iranian power is a "serious problem."
"Iraq needs good relations with Iran. The US has one policy focus, which is to bring Iran down and are looking through this prism. The situation is precarious. The Americans need a nuanced policy. This drive by the White House risks disrupting Iraq. If they really want a policy towards Iran, they should look at strengthening Iraq. But given that much of our assets are in the Federal Reserve the Americans can make life very difficult for us," the official said.
In November, the US imposed new sanctions on exports of Iranian oil after Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Washington, however, granted Iran’s eight main buyers of oil waivers to the sanctions that allowed them limited purchases for six months.