The Trump Administration is working with countries on a case by case basis to ensure that their purchase of oil from Iran comes down to zero as soon as possible, a top US official said.
President Donald Trump in May pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear accord, saying it had “failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb” and did not deal with Tehran’s “malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism”.
In an attempt to compel Iran to agree to a new accord, Trump reinstated sanctions that targeted the Iranian government’s purchase of US dollars, Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, and its automotive sector.
On November 4, a second batch of potentially more crippling sanctions will be re-imposed on Iran’s oil and shipping sectors as well as its central bank. The US has asked buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero starting in November.
In a conference call with reporters in Luxemburg after his travel to India for talks on the Iranian oil issue, the Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters that their goal remains getting countries importing oil from Iran to zero as quickly as possible.
“We are working with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis to assure that this happens. We are confident that energy markets will remain stable,” Hook said, without giving details of the talks that he had in New Delhi with Indian officials.
India said it would continue to purchase oil from Iran after November 4.
“We are seeing a well-supplied and balanced oil market right now, and we should focus on these fundamentals and not be distracted by the emotional and unbalanced claims coming from Tehran. We are going to continue to coordinate very closely with oil producers. The US is doing its part to maintain supply,” he told reporters.
The punitive American sanctions against those continuing to purchase oil from Iran comes into effect November 5. The Trump Administration insists that it wants all countries to bring down their purchase of Iranian oil to zero.
But countries like India, given its massive energy needs, argues that it simply can’t do that, even as it is planning to significantly reduce its intake of oil from Iran.
“Our sanctions will go into effect on November 5th, and this round of sanctions includes sanctions on Iran’s energy sector and foreign financial transactions with the Central Bank of Iran,” Hook said.
Ahead of the November 4 deadline, teams from Treasury and State have visited more than two dozen countries educating companies about the dangers of doing business with Iran, the reputational risk they incur by doing business with Iran, he said. These countries and entities, he said, are deciding that the risk is simply not worth the investment.