The United States says it plans to issue temporary waivers to several countries, allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian oil without being subject to forthcoming U.S. sanctions.
Sanctions on Iran are expected to be reinstated Monday, the result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal earlier this year from the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. Any country importing Iranian oil that does not receive a waiver will be subject to U.S. financial penalties.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the waiver decision in a conference call Friday, but did not specify which countries will be exempted or how long they would last.
“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves toward getting to zero crude oil importation,” Pompeo said.
Earlier, Bloomberg reported that South Korea, India, and Japan are among the exempted countries. The European Union will not be granted an exemption, Pompeo said.
Two of the countries will completely cut off imports of Iranian oil, while the other six will “greatly” reduce their imports, Pompeo added.
The sanctions are part of what the Trump administration calls a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at convincing Iran to abandon its nuclear program and end its support for U.S. foes in the Middle East. Pompeo says the campaign is working.
“The maximum pressure we have imposed has caused the rial (currency) to drop dramatically, [President Hassan] Rouhani’s cabinet is in disarray, and the Iranian people are raising their voice even louder against a corrupt and hypocritical regime,” Pompeo said.
The U.S. on Monday will also expand sanctions on a wide range of Iranian entities, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
“This includes hundreds of targets previously granted sanctions relief under the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), as well as more than 300 new designations,” Mnuchin said.
Notably, the Trump administration is not completely cutting off Iran from the SWIFT international banking system – an option that had been considered.
Mnuchin says the U.S. has informed SWIFT that it would be subject to U.S. sanctions if it provides financial transfer services to “certain designated Iranian financial institutions.”
But “humanitarian transactions to non-designated entities” will continue to be allowed,” he said.