U.S. tells Iran’s oil customers including India not to expect new waivers

Iran’s oil customers should not expect new U.S. waivers in May, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said last week, urging buyers to stop importing Iranian oil.

“What we have announced is the policy to get to zero imports of Iranian crude as quickly as possible. We are not looking to grant any future waivers or exceptions to our sanctions regime, whether it is oil or anything else,” Hook told Japanese public broadcaster NHK while on a visit to Japan.

When it re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, the U.S. granted waivers to eight countries so they could continue purchasing oil from Iran at reduced rates until early May 2019.

Some of those buyers, including the four major Asian buyers of Iranian oil—China, India, Japan, and South Korea—have recently resumed buying limited volumes of Iranian crude oil, after a period of around a month and a half in which they had to clarify how much and under what conditions they would purchase oil from Iran.

Earlier this week, Iran criticized Italy and Greece for not buying Iranian oil despite the fact that they had obtained waivers to do so.

The U.S. Administration has not officially said that no waivers will be issued, but officials have said that the goal is to drive Iranian exports to zero. Analysts, however, believe that there will be a direct correlation between the U.S. Iran waivers policy and the price of oil at the time Washington decides.

Despite the fact that the U.S. is not looking to grant any waivers to Iranian oil customers when the current ones expire in early May, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that no waivers will be issued, Hook and analysts hinted last month. “We did not want to lift the price of oil, and we were successful doing that. So when the president left the deal it was trading at $74. When our sanctions went back into effect, and we had taken off a million barrels of Iranian crude, oil was at $72,” Hook said at Atlantic Council’s 2019 Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi in mid-January this year.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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