Friday 23 August 2019

Iran's sanctions relief revoked by White House

US President Donald Trump. Photo: PA
US President Donald Trump. Photo: PA

Matthew Lee

The Trump administration has begun dismantling the sanctions relief granted to Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal, following the US president's withdrawal from the international accord.

The Treasury Department announced it had revoked licenses that allowed US-controlled foreign firms to export commercial aircraft parts to Iran, and Americans to trade in Iranian carpets, pistachios and caviar.

It said businesses engaged in any such transactions have to wind down those operations by August 6 or face penalties. Another set of licences covering other types of commerce, including oil purchases, will be revoked in coming weeks, with firms given until November 4 to end those activities.

The step had been expected since May when President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark agreement under which Iran was given relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Trump said the accord, a signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama, was the worst deal ever negotiated by the US because it gave Iran too much in return for too little. Trump also complained the agreement did not cover Iran's non-nuclear malign behaviour.

Other parties to the deal - Britain, China, Germany, France, Russia and the European Union - have criticised the US withdrawal, which has left the agreement at risk of collapse.

The Trump administration said this week it was pushing foreign countries to cut their oil imports from Iran to zero by November 4. Previously, the administration had said only that countries should make a "significant reduction" in their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to separate US sanctions.

A senior State Department official said the administration is now telling European and Asian countries the US expects their imports to hit zero by the time the grace period ends. A team from the State Department and National Security Council is currently in Europe delivering the message.

The official added that the US is working with other Middle Eastern countries to increase production so the global oil supply isn't harmed. Some close US allies are among the largest importers of Iranian crude oil, including India and South Korea.

Japan and Turkey also import significant amounts of Iranian oil.

Irish Independent

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