US removes sanction waivers to India, seven other countries importing oil from Iran

United States President Donald Trump has decided not to renew waivers that allowed eight countries, including India, to buy oil from Iran without facing sanctions.

“President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions [SREs] when they expire in early May,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Monday. “This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.”

The waivers are due for renewal on May 2, reported The Hill.

“The United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the world’s great energy producers, along with our friends and allies, are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied. We have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market,” the statement said.

India has lined up alternate sources to make up for the likely shortfall in oil supplies, unidentified government officials told PTI.

The US had re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. India, China, South Korea, Japan, Greece, Chinese Taipei, Turkey and Italy were allowed to temporarily import oil from Iran without sanctions.

The nuclear deal, signed by the five permanent members of the United Nations, Germany, the European Union and Iran, had lifted decades-old sanctions on Tehran after it promised to tone down its nuclear programme considerably.

“The Trump Administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilizing activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies, and security in the Middle East,” Sanders said in the statement.

She said the president’s move comes after Washington designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation earlier this month. This, Sanders said, showed the US commitment to “disrupting Iran’s terror network and changing the regime’s malign behavior”. Tehran had listed Washington as a “state sponsor of terrorism” after the US blacklisted the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Trump said Saudi Arabia and members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will “more than make up the oil flow difference in our now full sanctions on Iranian oil”. Trump blamed former Secretary of State John Kerry for giving “bad advice” to Iran and the people who helped Kerry lead US into the “very bad” Iran nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US will dramatically accelerate its pressure campaign on the Iranian regime until its leaders change their destructive behaviour, respect the rights of their people, and return to the negotiating table, PTI reported.

“Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime means maximum pressure,” Pompeo said on Twitter. “That’s why the U.S. will not issue any exceptions to Iranian oil importers.”

Pompeo told reporters that the US had extensive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other major producers to ease the transition and ensure sufficient supply, in addition to increasing US production.

Italy, Greece and Taiwan have already stopped importing Iranian oil, according to The Hill. China and India are currently the largest importers of Iranian oil, according to PTI.