US to announce ‘zero’ tolerance for Iran oil imports
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US to announce ‘zero’ tolerance for Iran oil imports

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- the alleged architect of the so-called zero tolerance policy -- will make the announcement on Monday, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing two State Department officials.  The administration of President Donald Trump left a multi-lateral nuclear agreement with Iran last May. Afterwards, Washington re-imposed the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. Last November, the US enforced sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s banking and energy sector, however, it granted waivers from the bans to eight major importers of the Iranian oil, fearing market instability. They were China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece. Now, Pompeo is expected to declare that the State Department will not be exempting the importers of Iranian crude or condensates beyond May 2 when the deadline for renewing the waivers was set to fall. A senior State Department official said the country was going ahead with the decision “because the conditions to not grant any more SREs have now been met,” pointing to “significant reduction exceptions” -- Washington's term for the waivers. ‘Saudi, UAE offsetting Iran supply’ Officials cited by the daily claimed that this time around, market would avert disruptions as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had given commitments to increase supply. Despite the alleged assurances, benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose by as much as 3.2 percent to $74.30 a barrel, the highest since November 1, in early trading on Monday “in reaction to expectations of tightening supply,” Reuters reported. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures climbed as much as 2.9 percent to $65.87 a barrel, its highest since Oct. 30. Since his inauguration in 2016, Trump has been rallying the countries, which are respectively its closest allies in the Persian Gulf, around an anti-Iran drive. Tehran has warned the region's countries against falling for the US ploy, saying it threatens to further alienate regional countries from one another and invite more regional tension. Mastermind of ‘zero tolerance’ A senior official, meanwhile, referred to Pompeo as the person who “originated” the so-called policy of zero tolerance, noting, “He has executed this policy in tight coordination with the president every step of the way.” Since Trump took office, the US has been leading more antagonistic policies towards Iran under the banner of “maximum pressure.” The US president claims the drive seeks to initiate negotiations leading to a “better” nuclear deal. The US’s withdrawal from the historical 2015 accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came despite marathon negotiations leading to the accords conclusion, which had been mediated by the European Union. Both the departure and reinstatement of the sanctions came while the accord has been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution. All the other parties to the JCPOA, namely the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany have strongly condemned the US’ actions over its unilateralism and violation of the international law. The US says its envisioned agreement would also be addressing Iran’s regional policies and missile activities. Tehran has strongly warned Washington against trying to interfere in its domestic and political affairs, and has vowed to resolutely pursue its missile program in line with its inalienable right to enhance its defensive prowess.

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