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US promises to sanction purchasers of Iranian oil

A Treasury Department official reaffirmed on Sept. 8 the Trump administration’s denial of waivers that previously allowed countries to import Iranian crude oil under U.N. and U.S. sanctions.

The Trump administration reaffirmed its policy that no more temporary waivers will be granted to countries that continue to rely on imports of Iranian oil.

According to the news service Reuters, Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told reporters at a press gathering in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 8 that countries continuing to violate U.N. and U.S. trade sanctions with Iran by importing that country’s oil risk being sanctioned themselves.

The Trump administration stopped granting the waivers on May 2. The waivers initially allowed countries to continue importing Iranian oil while they wound down those business ties with Iran.

The waivers, which were granted in six-month periods, initially were issued after the U.S. withdrew its participation in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018. The U.S. granted subsequent six-month extensions of the waivers through the end of last year.

Asian countries, such as China, South Korea, India, Taiwan and Japan, as well as Europe’s Greece and Turkey, have been the largest importers of Iranian crude during the period of the U.S. waivers.

“We will continue to put pressure on Iran,” Reuters quoted Mandelker saying. “Companies and governments understand that between the choice of doing business with Iran or doing business with the U.S. it’s a no-brainer.”

The U.S. government has continued to apply regulatory and economic sanctions pressure to shut down Iran’s ability to export revenue-generating crude oil.

On Sept. 4, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on an expansive global shipping network, which it said is managed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods (IRGC-QF).

That same day, OFAC issued a new seven-page advisory to the maritime industry warning against its participation in illicit shipping schemes, such as the IRGC-QF’s “oil-for-terror” shipping network. The agency has added nearly 200 vessels to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List since Nov. 5, 2018, for their role in transporting illicit oil shipments.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.