Netanyahu lauds US decision to end waivers on Iran oil sanctions
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Netanyahu lauds US decision to end waivers on Iran oil sanctions

PM praises Trump for ‘increasing pressure’ on Tehran after Washington warns 5 countries they’ll face financial penalties if they continue trade with Islamic Republic

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on April 14, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN /AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on April 14, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN /AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the Trump administration’s Monday announcement that it will no longer grant exemptions from sanctions to Iran’s oil customers, as the US said it intended to squeeze the Islamic Republic’s top export.

“The decision of President Trump and the American administration is of great importance for increasing the pressure on the Iranian terror regime,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “We stand by the determination of the United States against Iranian aggression and this is the right way to stop it.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration said Monday it would not renew waivers to five countries that continue to import oil from Iran. The waivers are set to expire next month.

Trump made the decision as part of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports, which the US says funds destabilizing activity throughout the Middle East and beyond.

US President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on April 21, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the White House said in a statement.

Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the move would help force Iran to end its nuclear program and support for terror.

“Only tough steps of this kind will force the ayatollah regime in Iran to completely stop the development of its dangerous nuclear program and its support for Hezbollah and the other terror groups in the region. Israel will continue to be a loyal partner of the United States in the struggle against Iranian aggression,” he said.

Netanyahu was a main voice against the 2015 nuclear deal that opened up Iran’s export market, and has praised Trump’s moves to reverse the pact.

The decision affects five nations — China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey — that had continued to buy oil from Iran.

This photo from March 12, 2017, shows a an Iranian oil facility on Kharg Island, on the shore of the Persian Gulf. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

China, one of Iran’s largest customers, slammed the step, calling it more evidence of US “unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.” China, which relies on imports for about half of its oil, could present the toughest diplomatic challenge for the US in trying to enforce its sanctions.

The administration granted eight oil sanctions waivers when it re-imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal. They were granted in part to give those countries — Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan — more time to find alternate energy sources but also to prevent a shock to global oil markets from the sudden removal of Iranian crude.

US officials said they did not expect any significant reduction in the supply of oil given production increases by other countries, including the US itself and Saudi Arabia.

Trump tweeted that Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC would make up the difference.

Since November, three of the eight countries — Italy, Greece and Taiwan — have stopped importing oil from Iran. The other five, however, have not, and have lobbied for their waivers to be extended.

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