The United States announced Monday the end of waivers that allowed eight countries to import Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions as part of an escalating campaign to bring Iran’s crude exports “to zero” and undercut Tehran’s power across the Middle East.
The announcement affects China, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and India. The three other countries – Italy, Greece, and Taiwan — have already stopped purchasing Iranian oil. Companies in those countries now face exclusion from the U.S. financial system if they continue to import crude from Iran.
“President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May,” the White House said in a statement. “This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned foreign governments and entities that Washington would enforce the sanctions regime without exception. “Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its due diligence and err in the side of caution,” said Pompeo. “How long we remain on zero depends solely on Iran’s behaviour.”
Pompeo noted that the U.S. would work with allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure there was “sufficient supply in the markets” to compensate for the Iranian supplies. “Saudi Arabia will coordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers while ensuring the global oil market does not go out of balance,” said Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi Minister of Energy.
The Iranian regime reacted angrily to the announcement and renewed threats to shut down the Strait of Hormuz – the world’s most important oil artery.
“If we are prevented from using it, we will close it,” the state-run Fars news agency reported, citing Alireza Tangsiri, head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps navy force. “In the event of any threats, we will not have the slightest hesitation to protect and defend Iran’s waterway.”
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