- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2019

The Trump administration Monday said it would not extend waivers for countries buying Iranian oil in the face of new U.S. sanctions after May 2, in a bid to cut off all foreign sales of the Islamic Republic’s key export.

The White House move, a fallout from President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose harsh economic sanctions on Tehran, was accompanied by a statement that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has agreed to work with the U.S. to make up any lost oil supplies on the international market and keep energy prices in check.

“We will no longer grant any exemptions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. “We’re going to zero across the board. Our goal has been to get countries to cease importing Iranian oil altogether.”

Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. has had “extensive and productive discussions” with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other major oil producers “to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply.” He said their cooperation, plus increasing U.S. production, “underscores our confidence that energy markets will remain well supplied.”

The administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil sector last fall, pressuring other countries to stop importing oil from Tehran. But the State Department granted waivers at the time to eight countries, including Japan, India, China and Turkey.

“The Trump administration has taken Iran’s oil exports to historic lows, and we are dramatically accelerating our pressure campaign in a calibrated way that meets our national security objectives while maintaining well-supplied global oil markets,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We stand by our allies and partners as they transition away from Iranian crude to other alternatives.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the move “is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.”

The decision is the latest in a series of actions by the administration to crack down on Iran.

It recently moved to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists. It was the first time the U.S. designated a part of another government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Oil prices surged Monday on the announcement that buyers of Iranian oil must stop imports or face U.S. sanctions. Brent crude futures rose 3 percent to $74.31 per barrel, the highest level since last Nov. 1.

Mr. Trump withdrew last year from the nuclear deal with Iran and six major powers that the Obama administration portrayed as the best hope to prevent Tehran from developing weapons of mass destruction.

The Trump administration is making 12 demands that include requiring Iran to give up its right to enrich uranium, stop threatening Israel and halt its support for terrorist groups like Hamas.

“There are 12 things we’re looking for [from Iran],” Mr. Pompeo said. “When we get to those things, we are happy to re-engage with Iran as a normal nation.”

He said the U.S. is “happy to get the outcome however we can achieve it” and warned Tehran not to test the U.S. militarily.

“We’ve made clear to Iran’s leaders that if Americans are attacked, we will respond in a serious way,” he said.

Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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