EghtesadOnline: The United States will consider requests from some countries to be exempted from sanctions it will put in effect in November to prevent Iran from exporting oil, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
“There will be a handful of countries that come to the United States and ask for relief from that. We will consider it,” Pompeo said, according to the text of an interview in Abu Dhabi with Sky News Arabia released by the US State Department, Reuters reported.
He did not name any countries.
Japan and South Korea, two major buyers of Iranian oil, are in talks with the US government to avoid the adverse impacts of Washington’s reimposition of sanctions aimed at cutting Iran out of international markets, Financial Tribune reported.
The United States is demanding countries cut all imports of Iranian oil from November 4, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on allies to cut off funding to Iran.
Both countries won waivers that allowed them to buy limited amounts of oil from Iran during the previous round of sanctions that ended in 2016, but Washington has this time adopted a more aggressive stance.
Pompeo's comments make him the first senior US official to publicly float the idea that Washington could grant some countries waivers from aggressive US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
A senior State Department official said during a briefing with reporters last month that the Trump administration did not plan to issue waivers to countries that want to continue importing oil from Iran.
Several key US allies import significant amounts of Iranian oil, including Japan, South Korea and Turkey. China, which remains in the 2015 nuclear deal, is the largest importer of oil from the Islamic Republic.
The threat of looming US sanctions on oil from Iran has prompted concerns of a reduced global oil supply, causing prices to spike in recent weeks. On Tuesday, US benchmark crude oil prices traded at more than $73 per barrel.
The US has pressed the Persian Gulf Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia, to increase oil production amid rising gas prices.