NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo has said that US sanctions which went into effect at midnight on Sunday “are the toughest sanctions ever put in place on the Islamic Republic of Iran.” However, in separate interviews to Fox News and CBS, Pompeo sidestepped questions on whether India and China, two of Iran’s largest oil importers, which had been given “temporary” waivers from the sanctions, had agreed to cut down imports to zero within a specified time frame.
Japan, Italy, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey are the other countries temporarily exempted from the US sanctions for buying Iranian oil as they showed significant reduction in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country, Pompeo said.“Watch what we do.
Watch as we’ve already taken more crude oil off the market than any time in previous history,” he replied.
The sanctions were “aimed at a singular purpose: denying the world’s largest state sponsor of terror the capacity to do things like they did this past couple weeks, attempt an assassination campaign in the heart of Europe,” he said.
However, “there’s a handful of places where countries have—that have already made significant reductions in their crude oil exports need a little bit more time to get to zero, and we’re going to provide that to them,” he said.
A Singapore-based oil market analyst was quoted as saying that India’s crude oil imports from Iran dropped from 690,000 barrels per day in May to around 400,000 barrels per day in August. Pompeo also clarified that businesses and entities that violated these sanctions, and not countries, would be punished under the sanctions. The Islamic republic, however, remained defiant, with its military chief, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned: “I want to say something to America and its weird president.Never threaten Iran.”