Washington declares war on Iranian oil, pledges ‘zero exports’ by November

The White House is pressuring allies (and others) to stop buying Iranian oil. China and India are also targeted. The US wants to “isolate streams of Iranian funding,” official says.  Tokyo, Seoul and New Delhi are looking at ways to save trading arrangements. Tehran is looking to Beijing to overcome the crisis.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – The United States is pressing on with its full-fledged economic and trade war against Iran, calling on countries (friends and others) to cut all imports of Iranian oil starting next November.

“Yes, we are asking them to go to zero,” a senior State Department official said when asked if the United States was pushing allies, as well as China and India.

“We’re going to isolate streams of Iranian funding and looking to highlight the totality of Iran’s malign behaviour across the region,” the official said.

The official said a US delegation was headed to the Middle East next week to urge Gulf producers to ensure global oil supplies as Iran is cut out of the market starting on 4 November when US sanctions are re-imposed.

Between now and November, the US will also put pressure on China and India, among the largest importers of Iranian oil, as well as Turkey and Iraq.

After the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union, Iran had been able to renew exports, especially of oil.

However, US President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the deal and impose the harshest sanctions in history against Tehran has precipitated the situation. For the Trump administration, no exemptions would be permitted.

Against this background, European attempts to save the nuclear agreement and keep channels open for economic, diplomatic and trade talks seem increasingly weak and ineffective.

For their part, Japan and South Korea are in damage control talks with US over the Iran sanctions

According to some experts, India is not willing to fully follow Washington, but will “enforce sanctions authorised by UN Security Council resolutions,” a report said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday promised Iranians the government would be able to handle new US economic pressures, trying to calm a populace that is increasingly turning to street protests because of financial hardships and a weakening rial.

This comes amid reports that parts of Tehran’s Grand Bazaar were on strike for a second straight day.

Iran has met with Chinese oil buyers to ask them to maintain imports of its oil.

China, the world’s top crude oil buyer, imported around 655,000 barrels a day on average from Iran in the first quarter of this year.

If Iran is unable to sell its oil, global production might not be sufficient to meet global needs, pushing up prices. Yesterday, benchmark US oil futures rose to US$ 70 a barrel.