USA pushes European and Asian states for zero oil imports from Iran

USA pushes European and Asian states for zero oil imports from Iran

Some close US allies are among the largest imports of Iranian crude oil, including India and South Korea.

Iran doesn't expect that the United States will grant sanction waivers to companies to import Iranian oil, and Iran is "trying to find new customers", Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.

This may cut Iran's hard currency earnings from oil exports, and the prospect is triggering a panicked flight of Iranians' savings from the rial into dollars. Last month, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark Iran nuclear deal, re-imposing US sanctions that had been suspended in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.

Iran's semi-official news agencies, Fars, ISNA and Tasnim, described the protests at the Grand Bazaar as erupting after the Iranian rial dropped to 90,000 to the dollar on the country's black market, despite government attempts to control the currency rate.

A senior State Department official warned foreign capitals that the USA will not be "granting waivers" under the new sanctions regime and described tightening the noose on Tehran as "one of our top national security priorities".

Asked about what kind of reaction he has been getting from European allies, who remain part of the Iran nuclear deal, the official said, "I am continually struck by the amount of business that is falling out of Iran". Official reports and comments also were slim in Iran's state-controlled media, though Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the "main provocateurs" of Monday's protests were arrested.

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"For Japan it is going to be relatively easy to fill the gap of Iranian oil", said Ikuo Hamabayashi, president of the Oil Information Center at the Institute of Energy Economics Japan.

Washington has pledged even tighter sanctions than before, although its European allies and other world powers say they still support the nuclear deal.

The Treasury Department on Wednesday revoked licenses that allowed US -controlled foreign firms to export commercial aircraft parts to Iran as well as permit Americans to trade in Iranian carpets, pistachios and caviar. "I think the predisposition would be No, we're not granting waivers", they said. "We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market", Rouhani said, according to the Reuters news agency. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman will be in the USA for talks with their American counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

In a recent report, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said as worldwide sanctions on Iran increased in 2010-2013, India sought to preserve its longstanding ties with Iran while cooperating with the sanctions regime. In January 2012, Iran agreed to accept India's local currency, the rupee, to settle almost half of its sales to India.

"Iran is in a weaker position to cope with these sanctions than it was during the last sanctions period two years ago", Emadi said.

Iran has also suggested it could increase its uranium production in response to the U.S. pullout, which others fear could worsen the situation the nuclear deal sought to avoid.

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