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US will work with countries on Iran oil curbs, says top official

India is the second largest importer of Iranian crude and has said it has already started cutting back on imports, but will find it difficult to go down to zero by November 4, when a second round of US sanctions — targeting Iran’s oil exports, ports and its central bank — go into effect.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2018 08:08 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Iran sanctions,US Iran sanctions,Iran oil curbs
A view of an oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. The United States remains determined to force Iran to change its behavior by cutting its oil exports to zero, the State Department said.(AFP Photo)

The US expects full compliance from other nations with its sanctions against Iran but is prepared to work with them on a “case-by-case basis” to bring down their imports, said a top diplomat.

“Our goal is to reduce every country’s import of Iranian oil to zero by November 4, and we are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” said Brian Hook, who will head the newly-established Iran Action Group, which will coordinate the US state department’s pressure campaign on Iran.

Hook said the US “certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations in terms of not risking the threat of US secondary sanctions if they continue with those transactions”.

India is the second largest importer of Iranian crude and has said it has already started cutting back on imports, but will find it difficult to go down to zero by November 4, when a second round of US sanctions — targeting Iran’s oil exports, ports and its central bank — go into effect.

In Hook, New Delhi will be dealing with a known entity — he was instrumental in crafting an October 2017 speech by former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, in which he had said that India and the US were “the two bookends of stability standing on either sides of the globe”.

Countries that continue to do business with Iran beyond that date run the risk of being slapped with “secondary sanctions” — chiefly being blocked out of the American financial system, which dominates global trade.

Earlier, while announcing the creation of the Iran Action Group, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that the body will be “responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of the state department’s Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to me”.

He added: “Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran. But for that, he said that Iran would have to become and behave like a “normal nation”.

The United States has laid down 12 conditions that it wants Iran to meet to lift the sanctions and they include ending their nuclear and missiles programmes completely, and ceasing “malign activities” in the region.

The US has indicated it is willing to work with countries that show significant deductions. Though the modalities have not been announced yet, the Obama administration had a instituted a process by which secondary sanctions were waived for countries showing significant reductions every six months.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 07:25 IST