About one year after the United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to U.S. sanctions. This is an escalation of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which seeks to force Tehran to end its illicit behavior around the world.
On Monday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce to the media that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate, two State Department officials told me.
Last November, the State Department issued 180-day waivers to eight countries to give them more time to find alternative sources of oil. Now, their time is running out.
Of the eight whom the global hegemon granted permission to continue limited imports Greece, Italy and Taiwan have already stopped them. South Korea and Japan are expected to follow and to comply with US demands.
That leaves China, India and Turkey as the unknowns. Will they comply and stop the imports or thank the US for a discount on Iranian crude and keep buying? At the time Turkey said publicly they’re looking for ways to keep importing, while India quietly cut back on its purchases.
Three things are certain, firstly — no matter how much time Pompeo spends talking about Saudi spare capacity — the oil price will go up benefiting chiefly Russia and Saudi Arabia. (It already has just on the reports the announcement will be made.)
Secondly, this sets up the US for a collision course with very signicant Asian powers. It will either cause resentment in those who comply, or friction with those who do not.
And thirdly, the US Iran policy is run by fanatics:
It cannot be emphasized enough that the reimposition of sanctions of Iran is completely unwarranted and represents a betrayal of previous U.S. commitments to Iran and our allies under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The decision to refuse any new sanctions waivers is a clear sign that the most fanatical members of the Trump administration have prevailed in internal debates and U.S. Iran policy is held hostage to their whims.
UPDATE: The announcement has now been made: