US actively considering waivers on Iran oil sanctions

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The Trump administration is actively considering waivers on sanctions it will reimpose next month for countries that are reducing their imports of Iranian oil, a U.S. government official said on Friday.

The administration withdrew from a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program in May and is unilaterally reimposing sanctions on Iran’s crude oil consumers on November 4. The sanctions aim to force Tehran to stop its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq and halt its ballistic missile program. Iran says it has abided by the 2015 nuclear deal, which was struck with five other world powers, besides the United States.

Trump re-imposes sanctions on Iran

President Trump has issued an executive order reinstating sweeping sanctions on Iran at midnight on Tuesday … months after dropping out of the Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions are intended to put pressure on the Iranian economy by shutting down Tehran’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars and targeting areas like Iran’s shipping and oil sectors. The move follows the administration’s decision in May to withdraw from the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and world powers including the Obama administration. TRUMP SOT “The Iran deal is defective at its core.” International sanctions on Iran were lifted under the deal… in exchange for curbs on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms. Trump’s decision has opened a new rift with U.S. allies in Europe, who are trying to salvage the nuclear deal and oppose new sanctions. The EU telling companies there not to comply with the U.S. demand to stop doing business with Iran. The executive order zeroes in on Iran’s critical petroleum industry… for example punishing individuals who knowingly engage in, quote “a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran.” But even as the administration ramps up the economic pressure… it’s also dangling the carrot of possible talks… with officials telling Reuters Trump is ready to meet with Iranian leaders at “any time” to negotiate a new nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissing the suggestion of talks with the U.S. on Monday, saying they could only take place if Washington proved it was trustworthy. Some of the new sanctions will go into effect at midnight on August 7th… with the rest kicking in on November 5th…

The administration is “in the midst of an internal process” of considering exceptions called SRE waivers, or significant reduction exemptions, said a government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It was the first time a US official said the administration was in the process of considering waivers. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in India last month that the administration would consider waivers and that some buyers of Iranian oil would take a “little bit of time” to unwind their trade with Iran.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that the administration’s objective was that there be no waivers and “exports of Iranian oil and gas and condensates drops to zero.” He added that the administration would not necessarily achieve that.

The administration is “prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” the official said.

The comments followed news that India, Iran’s No. 2 oil customer after China, will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in November. It was an indication that India will continue purchasing crude from Iran, despite the Trump administration’s push to get countries to stop their purchases.

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