U.S. won't renew sanctions waivers for nations importing Iranian oil

AP sources: US to sanction nations for importing Iranian oil

He did not say whether China would heed the USA call to cut Iran oil imports to zero.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet that "Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil".

Earlier on Monday, the White House said that US President Donald Trump "has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May". "We're going to zero across the board".

The Trump administration is expected to tell five nations, including Turkey, they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they continue to import Iranian oil.

The end of waivers means that those countries that continue to buy Iranian oil will face sanctions, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with the goal to get Iranian oil exports to zero and to get Iran to the negotiating table. But, even as the sanctions have badly hurt its economy, Iran has stuck to its commitment under the nuclear deal to restrict its atomic activities, in the hopes that European partners can help it weather the US blows. The prices spiked following media reports that Washington could soon end its waivers for Iranian oil buyers.

President Donald Trump made the decision as part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports that the USA says funds destabilizing activity throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Axios reported on Sunday that Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, met last week "with around 15 Iranian-American community leaders" in Texas. "The Iraq and Afghanistan [exemption] processes are different", the U.S. official, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor.

China, India and Turkey, however, may not comply with the US directive.

But some U.S. State Department, Defense and intelligence officials and outside experts warn that the move could backfire by causing ripple effects in countries like China, Turkey and Iraq. They were granted in part to give those countries more time to find alternate energy sources but also to prevent a shock to global oil markets from the sudden removal of Iranian crude.

The White House said it was working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure the market was 'adequately supplied.' Traders, already fretting about tight supplies, raised skepticism about whether this more stringent approach, along with ongoing sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry, could backfire in the form of a major spike in prices.

South Korea, a close US ally, is a major buyer of Iranian condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil that its refining industry relies on to produce petrochemicals.

"My sense is that this is primarily motivated by the fact that maximum pressure has produced minimum results, and the clock is ticking", Vaez told Al-Monitor.

According to Indian commerce ministry data, oil imports from Iran in the 10 months to January rose 16.3 percent to 21.3 million tonnes - although they have declined since the initial USA sanctions announcement. After running up above $85 a barrel in anticipation of sanctions, oil plunged to near $50 in the last three months of 2018 as the administration unexpectedly granted the waivers.

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