By Jubin Katiraie
The US vowed to eliminate in May all waivers granted to eight countries that allowed them to keep buying Iranian oil from November 2018 as part of the US campaign to increase pressure on Iran by cutting off their oil revenues.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the US wanted to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and had no plans to give any of the countries involved a grace period to comply with the sanctions.
He said: "Today I am announcing that we will no longer grant any exemptions. We are going to zero. We're going to zero across the board."
These sanctions are aimed at convincing Iran to end its nuclear program and its support for terrorist proxies. The US reimposed sanctions after Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, which he called "the worst deal ever", last May.
In the past year, Iran’s exports have fallen from over 2.5 million barrels per day to less than 1 million bpd. US envoy for Iran Brian Hook said that conditions in the global oil market changed since November, allowing the US to go full force with these sanctions.
The sanctions will now affect China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece, which were all granted waivers in order to stabilise the oil market.
While this latest move has seen a spike in oil prices, the White House said that it is working with top oil-producing countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure the market remains stable.
Trump tweeted: "Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil."
In response to the sanctions, the Mullahs’ IRGC Naval Force Commander threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, something they have threatened many times before, where over 20% of the world’s petroleum flows through.
Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said: “The Hormuz Strait, based on law is an international shipping route and we will close it if we are banned from using it”.
One senior US official said that this would be unjustified and unacceptable, so the US is looking at a way to stop Iran violating the sanctions.
Meanwhile, John Bolton, the White House's National Security Adviser tweeted that the US’s designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group should have made it clear to Iran where the US stood.