Washington, Nov 5: The U.S. on Monday imposed “the toughest ever” sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime’s “behaviour”, even as the Trump administration dodged a question whether it has got firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Tehran within six months.
The sanctions cover Iran’s banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.
The sanctions follow U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision in May to abandon the 2015 multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.
President Trump says that he wants to get Iran back to the negotiating table on the nuclear issue. The Trump administration also says it wants to stop what it calls Tehran’s “malign” activities including cyber attacks, ballistic missile tests, and support for terror groups in the Middle East
Rare temporary exemptions
India and China — the two biggest buyers of Iranian crude, have so far appeared to have skipped the punitive American sanctions targeting the Iranian oil and financial sectors.
The two Asian giants are believed to be among the eight countries that have been given the rare temporary exemptions from the Iranian sanctions that kicked off on Monday.
The Trump administration said it has asked these countries including Turkey, Iraq, Italy, Japan and South Korea to bring down their oil purchase to zero as soon as possible.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a talk show on Fox News, refused to reveal which countries received waivers from U.S. sanctions to continue importing Iranian oil.
But he said the eight unidentified nations “need a little bit more time to get to zero.”
He repeatedly parried questions when asked about the commitment from India and China on zero-oil purchase from Iran.
“Watch what we do. Watch as we’ve already taken more crude oil off the market than any time in previous history. Watch the efforts that President Trump’s policies have achieved. We’ve done all of this, too, while making sure that American consumers don’t suffer, he said, as he avoided giving a direct answer on India and China.
“I am very confident that the sanctions that will be re-imposed this Monday, not only the crude oil sanctions, that the financial sanctions that are being put in place by the Treasury Department and over 600 designations of individuals and companies in Iran will have the intended effect to alter the Iranian regime’s behaviour. That’s our expectation. It’s the reason for President Trump’s policy,” he asserted.
'Toughest ever' on Tehran
India, which is the second biggest purchaser of Iranian oil after China, is willing to restrict its monthly purchase to 1.25 million tonnes or 15 million tonnes in a year (300,000 barrels per day), down from 22.6 million tonnes (452,000 barrels per day) bought in 2017-18 financial year, sources in New Delhi had said last week.
Fresh U.S. sanctions on Iran is ‘toughest ever’