WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said it plans to cease granting sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian oil, its latest step to tighten economic pressure on Tehran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement Monday morning, after administration sources leaked word of the decision Sunday night. The new policy is to begin on May 2.
The move appears to be in coordination with Saudi Arabia, which has hinted it will boost its oil production to offset any decreases in Iranian oil available for purchase on the international market, according to news reports. The amount to make up for any untouchable Iranian oil would be about 1 million barrels a day.
Oil prices topped $74 a barrel on Monday, the highest since last November, according to news reports.
“Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution,” Pompeo said Monday. “The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.”
Initial wide-ranging sanctions were applied against Iran last November. At that time, waivers were granted to eight nations to permit continued importing of Iranian oil for six months.
Three of those nations — Greece, Italy and Taiwan — already ceased importing Iranian oil. Those still importing are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
“Komala applauds the Trump administration for continuing to tighten economic sanctions on the regime,” Salah Bayaziddi, the U.S. representative of the Iranian Kurdistan Komala Party, told TMN Monday. Last week his party called for tougher economic sanctions on Iran.
“U.S. sanctions have certainly weakened the regime and the people of Iran are growing more discontent by the day,” he said. “The sanctions are clearly making a real difference; the regime is losing its legitimacy in the Iranian street, among all walks of life and backgrounds.”
Earlier this month, the Trump administration designated part of the Iranian military as a terrorist organization.
Last week, when Pompeo spoke to Iranian-Americans in Texas, he told them Washington is not going to support any military action to overthrow Iranian leaders, Axios reported.