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The U.S. says no extension of the waiver for anyone to import oil from Iran

Pompeo has confirmed the United States will not be giving a waiver to anyone to buy oil from Iran.

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News Analysis |

The United States of America has decided not to extend the waiver for buying Iranian oil which was earlier given to 8 countries in the wake of the revoked nuclear deal. Earlier, eight countries which include: South Korea, Turkey, India, Taiwan, Greece, Japan, China, and Italy were given a waiver for a certain period and instructed to find alternatives for their need of oil in the meantime. Now, the United States has categorically stated that extension requests would not be entertained. “We’re going to zero.

We’re going to zero across the board,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained told the reporters. “There are no (oil) waivers that extend beyond that period, full stop,” he said, adding that there would be no grace period for those economies to comply. “The goal remains simply: To deprive the outlaw regime of the funds that it has used to destabilize the Middle East for decades and incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country,” Pompeo said.

Donald Trump walked out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed the sanctions on Iran citing its increased footprint in the Middle East and continuation of the ballistic missile program. The countries involved in the trade with Iran were also threatened to face sanctions and ban to carry out business involving the United States or its institutions. However, most vulnerable to the sanctions on the Iranian export of oil were apparently close allies of the U.S which forced the Trump administration to give a waiver period.

Read more: UN court tells US to ease Iran sanctions in blow for Trump

While few have stopped the oil import altogether, some of these countries, including South Korea, Turkey, and India were expecting to pursue the Trump administration for an extension of wavier but to their disappointment, it turned out the opposite. It seems that the United States is willing to put its relations with allies to come as hard on Iran as possible.

Iran looks toward Friends in Desperate Times

Iran has launched a multi-faceted approach to come out of the current scenario which is likely to go worse. It has approached the European partners via its foreign ministry to help it out of this situation. “The waivers … have no value but because of the practical negative effects of the sanctions, the Foreign Ministry has been … in touch with foreign partners, including European, international and neighbours and will… act accordingly,” Iran’s foreign ministry stated.

Turkey has also stated that the U.S should not expect Turkey to simply abandon trade with Iran at such a critical juncture. The recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan could also be interpreted in the same perspective since Pakistan’s proximity to Iran could be a lynchpin for a final blow if the United States and Saudi Arabia intend one.

Read more: Can the US make Iran sanctions stick?

Choking the Strait of Hormuz is another Option

On the military front, Iran has replaced its long-serving chief of Revolutionary Guard  Ali Jafferi, who has been commanding the corps for the last 11 years, as a tactical move to intimidate the United States. The move has come after the United States has officially designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

Brigadier General Hossain Salami was appointed as chief by the supreme leader, since Revolutionary Guards are under his direct command, and the incumbent Chief is a hardliner who has straightaway threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if the United States continued to pressurize Iran.

It is not the first time Iran has made this threat, but it is generally believed that it would be a do or die resort when diplomacy fails. Strait of Hormuz is a critical passage for the oil for Gulf countries and the maritime route is heavily patrolled by the U.S Navy. In case of confrontation, Iran could be heavily outmanoeuvred due to the strength and technology of the United States of America and the latter might use it as a reason to launch a massive military operation inside Iranian mainland.