United States tells allies they must stop importing Iran oil by November


The United States on Tuesday insisted its allies, including India, should end all imports of crude oil from Iran by November 4 when sanctions against Iran come into effect again, reported AFP quoting a US State Department official.

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".

Iran has met with Chinese oil buyers to ask them to maintain imports of its oil, although it failed to secure guarantees from China, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in May.

European powers in particular have been attempting to negotiate exemptions for their firms, but the official confirmed that Trump intends to stick to his 180-day deadline, expiring Nov 4.

"We are asking them to go to zero", the official confirmed.

The senior USA official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, admitted that this would be unpopular.

The Iranian rial is under heavy pressure from the threat of U.S. sanctions and reports indicate the Iranian people are not happy about it.

The Trump administration said in May that it would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran signed by former US President Barack Obama.

Senior State Department and Treasury officials are pressing allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to adhere to the sanctions, which are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a follow-up agreement to halt its nuclear programs.

"The government hasn't done enough to confront the economic problems", he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

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The official said India and China "will be subject to the same sanctions that everybody else is".

The country imported only 5.3 percent of its total oil from Iran in 2017, compared to about 40 percent from Saudi Arabia and around 24 percent from the United Arab Emirates, according to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade's annual statistical report.

Last month, the EU said it would revive legislation to allow European companies to continue doing business with Iran, despite USA rules.

The diplomatic efforts will affect several key US allies that import significant amounts of Iranian oil, including Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a wholesale change in Iran's military and regional policies, threatening the "strongest sanctions in history" if it refused.

"The U.S. can not defeat our nation, our enemies are not able to get us to their knees", he said.

CBS News State Department reporter Kylie Atwood reports that this marks a revival of protests seen in December and January. "I don't want to get into the substance of each discussion I've had, but, for a vast majority of countries, they are willing to adhere and support our approach to this because they also view it as a threat".

"India has increased oil purchases from Iran to almost pre-2012 levels after sanctions were lifted, and in May 2016 India agreed to transfer to Iran about $6.5 billion that it owed for Iranian oil shipments but which was held up for payment due to sanctions", the report said.

A ban on imports of over 1,300 products announced by Iran on Monday in order to prepare its economy for looming US sanctions presented a big opportunity for Iranian companies, Rouhani said.