US Grants Temporary Iran Oil Waivers to Eight Counties

Mae Love
November 7, 2018

The US reinstated a raft of sanctions in August, but analysts say this latest round is by far the most significant.

President Donald Trump announced in May he was withdrawing the United States from a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which lifted wide-ranging sanctions on the Iranian economy.

On Friday, a few days before the sanctions came into effect, the United States granted waivers to eight Iranian oil importers, including Iraq, Turkey, India, China, South Korea and Japan. "We're not simply going to be content with the level of sanctions that existed under [former United States president Barack] Obama in 2015", Bolton said in an interview with the cable channel.

The sanctions take effect six months after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying the U.S. could not prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the "decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement".

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, listed hundreds of companies in the oil, shipping and finance sectors that would be banned from trading with the USA, or with any firm that wished to do business in the country.

The U.S. unleashed a fresh wave of sanctions against Iran on Monday, targeting its crude oil exports and its shipping and banking sectors.

Israel's defense minister is welcoming newly restored US sanctions against Iran, saying they will deal a "critical blow" to Iran's military presence around the Middle East.

And Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has greeted the move by ordering air defence drills.

"Further, its negotiators failed to secure any restrictions on Iran's other destabilising activities, including the regime's ballistic missile development and proliferation", he told a NY audience. Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps are among the forces participating. Right now we have a history last time around of India, Turkey and China continuing to buy even with sanctions.

When asked about his decision to give temporary exemptions to eight countries from the ban on Iranian oil imports, Trump said, "I'm not looking to be a great hero and bring it down to zero immediately".

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Iran's clerical rulers dismissed the curbs. While Turkey imported 930,978 tons of crude oil from Iran in May, the figure fell to 287,842 tons in June, according to the monthly petroleum industry report from the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA). Imposing maximal economic pressure on Iran is vital for getting Tehran back to the table, he said. "We are prepared to resist any pressure", Rouhani said.

The US advised SWIFT, the global messaging network that connects the world's financial institutions, to cut off its service for designated Iranian financial institutions.

But President Donald Trump announced last May that the US would withdraw from the agreement. Under the Obama-era deal, involving five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, Iran had agreed to stop its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Iranian oil exports have fallen by about a million barrels a day in that time, though India and China have continued to purchase it.

South Korea said on November 5 it has been granted a waiver to at least temporarily continue to import condensate, a super-light form of crude oil, from Iran and also still continue financial transactions with the Middle East country. "Sanctions are about psychology, that you want to dominate the other, but I can inform you that Iran is self-confident".

International Brent crude oil futures were down 47 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $72.70 a barrel.

The curbs come as the United States is focused on USA congressional and gubernatorial elections on Tuesday.

"President Trump's predecessors also began crafting their Iran policy with similar bravado; but came around to accepting and respecting the reality of Iran as they became more experienced in office".

Rouhani did not mention the name of the leaders of the four countries. And, they say, the agreement was the best way to slow Iran's nuclear development.

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