China, Japan, India among those exempt from Iran oil sanctions, says US
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said some exemptions would only last ‘weeks’, while others would require a dramatic reduction in supply
- National Security Adviser John Bolton said more sanctions on Tehran are in the pipeline, but did not give details
The United States will exempt China, India and Japan from oil sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, while vowing to be “relentless” in pressuring Tehran.
Pompeo listed eight places that will enjoy temporary waivers from a ban on all oil transactions with Iran: China, Taiwan, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
Earlier in the day, the administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy, banking, shipbuilding and shipping sectors to compel Tehran to end its nuclear programme and support for militant groups in the Middle East.
“These sanctions hit at the core areas of Iran’s economy,” Pompeo told reporters on Friday. “They are necessary to spur changes we seek on the part of the regime,” which the administration claims is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.
He said that two of the eight jurisdictions will wind down Iranian oil imports to zero in “weeks” and the six others will import “at greatly reduced levels”.
At the same time, US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said more sanctions are on the way, according to Fox Business Network, but gave no other details.
“We’re going to have sanctions that even go beyond this. We’re not simply going to be content with the level of sanctions that existed under [former US president Barack] Obama in 2015,” Bolton said in an interview with the cable channel. “More are coming.”
Japan had sought a waiver during negotiations with the US, saying that its imports of Iranian oil had been falling recently.
Aside from restrictions on oil imports, the administration added more than 700 names – including individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft linked to the energy and financial sectors and other segments of Iran’s economy – to the US list of sanctioned entities.
Of those added, more than 300 are new designations and the remainder won sanctions relief under the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew the United States in May.
The US advised SWIFT, the global messaging network that connects the world’s financial institutions, to cut off its service for designated Iranian financial institutions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was with Pompeo, warned that SWIFT, which is based in Brussels, would be subject to US sanctions if it provides financial messaging services to such institutions.
“Any financial institution, company, or individual who evades our sanctions risks losing access to the US financial system and the ability to do business with the United States or US companies,” Mnuchin said. “We are intent on ensuring that global funds stop flowing to the coffers of the Iranian regime.”
After pulling the US out of the deal struck between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – the administration began reimposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic in August.
Under the deal, Tehran had agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
Kyodo, Associated Press, Reuters