Iran denounces US decision to end sanction waivers

Tehran: Iran on Monday denounced United States’ decision to end sanctions waivers for nations importing Iranian Oil, saying the sanctions are “principally illegal”.

“Since the sanctions in question are principally illegal, the Islamic Republic of Iran did not and does not attach any value or credibility to the waivers given to the sanctions,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement issued on its official website.

In November last year, the State Department had issued 180-day waivers to eight countries to give them more time to find alternative sources of oil.

Three of the eight countries, including Greece, Italy and Taiwan, which received the US waivers, have already stopped their Iranian oil imports.

The other countries that will now have to cut off the oil imports or be subjected to US sanctions are China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

While India refrained from making any statement immediately, China has opposed unilateral US sanctions against Iran, saying its bilateral cooperation with Iran was in accordance with the law.

Turkey has also rejected Washington’s sanctions and said that the recent sanctions will “harm the Iranian people” and will not “serve regional peace and stability”.

China and India are currently the largest importers of Iranian oil. If the respective countries fail to pay heed to Trump’s demands it may cause tensions in bilateral relations.

South Korea and Japan are relatively less dependent on Iranian oil and have already been treading lightly.

The measures, expected to have implications on the oil markets, were decided after Trump discussed the issue with the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan last Thursday.

“The policy of zero Iranian imports originated with Secretary Pompeo,” a senior State Department official was quoted as saying.

“He has executed this policy in tight coordination with the president every step of the way. Because the conditions to not grant any more significant reduction exceptions (SREs) have now been met, we can now announce zero imports,” the official added.

Trump has said he wants the Iranian regime to come back to the negotiating table and strike a better deal than the one signed by former President Barack Obama. However, Iran has refuted Trump’s order, saying that it has no intention of doing so.

“The goal of the policy is to drive up the costs of Iran’s malign behaviour and more strongly address the broad range of threats to peace and security their regime presents,” the State Department official was quoted as saying.

Last year, Trump had announced “toughest sanctions” on Iran which has punctured the country’s economy. Tehran has seen its oil exports plunge and its currency has lost more than half its value.

Tehran’s economic crisis has deepened further as the country is witnessing its worst-ever floods. Over 100 people have died so far and thousands have been displaced.