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South Korea gets United States exemption on Iran crude oil imports

05 November 2018

President Donald Trump removed the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, triggering the sanctions being imposed Monday.

The Trump administration has said it is confident that "the toughest ever" sanctions against Iran which came into force on Monday will have the intended effect of altering the Iranian regime's behaviour, even as it dodged a question on whether the United States has firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Tehran within six months.

Iran's biggest oil customers - all in Asia - have been seeking waivers to sanctions to allow them to continue buying some of the Islamic Republic's oil. "And we'll see what happens with Iran, but they're not doing very well, I can tell you".

"In the medium term, it will backfire; the USA and its allies will lose influence, while Iran will gain confidence and power", he wrote on the website of the Middle East Eye.

The Trump Administration announced additional sanctions on Iran on a teleconference on November 2 led by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. He said what he called "the terror regime" in Tehran must change its ways.

World oil markets were on alert, nervously set to gauge the consequences of the sanctions.

The US has said it will temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil, with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey - all top importers - expected to be among those given temporary exemptions to ensure crude oil prices are not destabilised.

Iraq is not only next to Iran, it is economically and culturally so intertwined with Iran that it is not obvious if Iraq would have the capacity to break away completely from Iranian oil. But the sword has two edges: Iran is also the OPEC cartel's third-largest producer.

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Iran's already-anemic economy is likely to suffer more under the fresh U.S. embargo, though politicians and protesters struck a defiant tone.

However, the U.S. is expected to give a short-term waiver to eight countries which could include India because of its commitment to significantly reduces the import of oil from Iran.

Asked if the U.S. had firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Iran within six months, Pompeo replied: "Watch what we do. That was one of the most ridiculous deals ever made by any country, at any time: the Iran nuclear deal", he said.

The 444-day crisis after the fall of the US -allied shah transfixed America, as nightly images of blindfolded hostages played on television sets across the nation. "SWIFT (will) be subject to U.S. sanctions if it provides financial messaging services to certain designated Iranian financial institutions".

And Pompeo said that any Iranian banks involved in "sanctionable behaviour will be sanctioned by the Department of Treasury, period, full stop".

France, Germany, Britain and the European Union condemned the move, issuing a joint statement that pledges to protect European companies involved in "legitimate" business dealings with Tehran. Both Airbus and Total have announced plans to leave Iran.

Promoted by the Trump administration as the "strongest sanctions in history", the reality of the new restrictions does not match its original hype, according to the BBC.

South Korea gets United States exemption on Iran crude oil imports