By Staff Writer
A senior US State Department official said that the United States is urging foreign countries to cut their oil imports from Iran to nothing. The senior official was not allowed to be identified but told reporters on Tuesday that the US would like to see imports cut to zero by November this year.
US President Donald Trump announced last month that the United States was exiting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Since the deal was implemented, Iran has been benefitting from the lifting of numerous sanctions, including several on its energy sector, in return for Iran rolling back its nuclear program.
After announcing that the United States is exiting the deal, he said that after a six-month grace period, sanctions would be going back into effect. This grace period expires on 4th November.
The Trump administration, since its early days, has been escalating its bid to put pressure on Iran faced with its constant belligerence.
When it was announced that foreign countries are expected to cut their imports to zero (as opposed to making a huge reduction), the price of US crude went up to more than $70 per barrel.
The senior official indicated that the Trump administration will not be handing out waivers to allow other countries, including Iran regime’s allies, to keep importing Iranian oil.
When the original announcement was made, the Treasury Department issued public guidance on the subject. It said that foreign countries should make a “significant reduction” in their Iranian oil imports. Those that did not would then be subject to US sanctions that prohibit any and all transactions between Iran’s central bank and those of other countries.
The official said that members of the Trump administration have been on official visits to a number of countries in Asia and Europe where they have indicated that the United States expects their imports to be completely cut by 4th November.
Furthermore, the reporters were told that the Trump administration is working with other countries in the Middle East so that production can be increased and so that the global oil supply is not damaged.
China was the biggest importer of Iranian oil last year. China is still one of the parties to the nuclear deal and had encouraged President Trump to consider leaving the deal intact.
Other big importers of Iranian oil are several allies to the United States including South Korea and India.
The Trump administration has made it very clear that the United States will not be putting up with the Iran threat without serious consequences. Before even taking office, Trump strongly criticised the nuclear deal and said he would scrap it if he took office.
He has announced that sanctions will be reimposed and said that fresh ones will also be issued. It is essential for the sanctions to target Iran meaningfully.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition, has called on foreign countries to ensure that business, trade and investment opportunities are conditioned upon the respect for the human rights of the people of Iran. This is one of the messages that it will be emphasising at its grand gathering in Paris on 30th June.