US sanctions: India, China among 8 countries allowed to buy Iranian oil: Mike Pompeo

WASHINGTON: India, China and Japan are among eight countries temporarily exempted from American sanctions for buying Iranian oil as they showed significant reduction in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country after the Trump administration reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

Pompeo vowed that the US will be “relentless” in pressuring Iran as he announced the list of the countries temporarily exempted from the sanctions during a press conference broadcast live.

Italy, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey also figure in the list released by Pompeo.

The US on Monday imposed “the toughest ever” sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime’s “behaviour”.
The sanctions cover Iran’s banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.

While the US had previously wanted countries including India to completely halt oil purchases from Iran by November 4, it seems to have relented considering the havoc the move to completely take out Iranian supplies from the market would have had on prices.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs through imports. Iran is its third-largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10 per cent of the total needs.

After US relief, India works to pay for Iran oil in rupees

India will revive a previous arrangement of making payments in an account in UCO Bank, which does not have international exposure and is therefore not vulnerable to sanctions. This time, Iran will take the entire amount in rupees. Tehran is expected to use these funds to import items from India.

Currently, India pays its third largest oil supplier in euros using European banking channels.

In May, President Donald Trump

pulled the US out of
the 2015 landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) terming it as “disastrous”.

Under the Obama-era deal, involving five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, Iran agreed to stop its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

US waiver on Iran oil gives government comfort till polls

The reprieve from sanctions will come as a booster for the government as it is expected to help ease the pressure on crude prices. The elections are likely to will be held in May next year. The continuous rise in global crude prices that pushed up retail fuel prices to a record high piled pressure on the government.

After America’s withdrawal from the deal, Trump signed fresh sanctions against Iran and warned countries against any cooperation with Tehran over its controversial nuclear weapons programme.

Iran has dismissed these charges and maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

Iranian oil is a lucrative buy for refiners as the Persian Gulf nation provides 60 days of credit for purchases, terms not available from suppliers of substitute crudes — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria, and the US.

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