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China and Turkey pan U.S. plan to bring Iran’s oil exports to ‘zero,’ while Israel cheers

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The Trump administration yesterday said it will end sanction exemptions on oil purchases from Iran for seven countries and Taiwan beginning in May, prompting pushback from countries that purchase oil from the Islamic Republic.

Iran stands to lose billions in revenue to crude competitors in the U.S. and Gulf states. 

Yesterday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to eliminate all of Iran’s oil exports, “We’re going to zero – going to zero across the board.”

Iranian oil exports are generating around $50 billion annually, and including $10 billion in losses from an earlier partial sanction roll out last November.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif struck back over social media, accusing the U.S. of “economic terrorism,” and acting out of “panic” and “desperation.” 

This morning Iran’s Parliament passed a resolution naming American forces in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as a “terrorist” organization. Iran’s ministry of culture publication IRNA called it a “reciprocal action” in response to Trump labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization on April 8. That same day Iran’s National Security Council  designated U.S. forces as terrorists.

In November the Trump administration began limited sanctions on Iranian oil purchases, but gave exemption waivers to Greece and Italy, which immediately stopped purchasing Iranian oil, and Turkey, South Korea, China, India, Japan, and Taiwan. Those exemptions expire on May 2, 2019.

Before announcing the sanctions, President Trump consulted with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which agreed to increase their foreign sales. The Gulf states “have assured us they will ensure an appropriate supply for the markets,” Pompeo said, “And of course, the United States is now a significant producer as well.”

The sanctions could mark a bonanza for American oil companies as U.S. crude sales have already skyrocketed in the last year, making the U.S. the largest producer in the world, narrowly beating out Russia and Saudi Arabia. In January the Energy Information Agency reported crude export had doubled from the same time last year with 2.575 thousand barrels of sold per day.

“Our goal has been to get countries to cease importing Iranian oil entirely,” Pompeo said. “We did this to give our allies and partners to wean themselves off of Iranian oil, and to assure a well-supplied oil market.”

Oil prices continued to surge today, amid worries of coming scarcities on the market. Bloomberg reported prices jumped 2.9 percent Monday, reaching a six-month high of $75 a barrel.

(Source: Intercontinental Exchange/Bloomberg)

(Source: Intercontinental Exchange/Bloomberg)

Iranian officials have pointed to interrupted supplies from both Libya and Venezuela as a potential upset to the optimistic U.S. price models.

“In this fragile situation, no one can ensure if oil is being supplied to the market as much as needed,” Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zangeneh told his country’s Parliament today. He added that “some countries in the region overstate their surplus oil production capacity in order to provoke the U.S. and put pressure on Iran,” reported the state-owned Fars News Agency. 

“I repeat, the United States and its allies have committed a big mistake by politicizing oil and using it as a weapon and the aftermaths of which will be felt by themselves,” Zangeneh continued.

The sanctions are the latest Trump administration attempt to pressure Europe into leaving JCPOA, or the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. pulled out of the agreement last May. As an alternative the Trump administration promoted a 12 point-plan that seeks not only to give the International Atomic Energy Agency unfettered access to all Iranian nuclear sites and its historical records on all nuclear production, but also curtail Iranian activity across the region. The plan demands the withdraw of Iranian forces from Syria and an end of support to Hizbollah and Hamas.

Last July, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani threatened that if Trump expanded sanctions on Iranian oil he would retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz to foreign ships. He told a group of ambassadors, “Mr. Trump! Do not twist the lion’s tail because you will regret.” 

Purchasers of Iran’s oil have already panned the sanctions as economic bullying and accused the U.S. of self-dealing and enriching its oil-producing allies.

China’s spokesperson for its foreign ministry Geng Shuang yesterday opposed the sanctions and accused the U.S. of “long-arm jurisdictions,” as the sanctions were unilaterally imposed by the U.S., CNN reported.

“Our cooperation with Iran is open, transparent, lawful and legitimate, thus it should be respected,” Shuang said.

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said pushing countries to make purchases from the U.S. and its allies at the expense of Iran is “wrong” and “violates the regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and poses a risk to s       tability in the region,” Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported. 

By contrast, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision.

“The decision of President Trump and the American administration is of great importance in increasing the pressure on the Iranian terrorist regime. We stand alongside the determination of the US against the Iranian aggression and this is the right way to stop it,” he said.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. HarryLaw on April 23, 2019, 6:49 pm

    We are entering the US end game in the Middle East, sanctioning Iranian oil by threatening other countries with secondary sanctions is contrary to International law, in fact it is an act of war in itself, which if it was implemented could cause Iran economic collapse with millions of deaths and refugees flooding the EU, I say this because Iran will never negotiate with the US regime who constantly move the goalposts at the behest of its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, also they have too much self respect to prostrate themselves before an enemy that will not be satisfied until it is totally disarmed and regime changed.
    Everything depends on China and Russia plus those other countries who must decide whether to continue Iranian oil purchases, in the case of Russia as with China, because oil is fungible they can buy Iranian oil at a discount and then sell to the rest of the world at a good profit. The Iranians can make a good case that if they cannot sell their oil, then non of the Gulfies should be able to either. Mining the Strait of Hormus, or threatening to, could send the price of oil through the roof or make it impossible to insure tankers making the journey, the same effect could be achieved by some terrorist group bombing the Saudi Ras Tanura oil terminal, where most Saudi oil is dispatched from. US bases in the region could be at risk as well as the fleet in Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia would be happy to see US servicemen alone do the dirty work and reap the economic consequences, but their own economic existence would be severely threatened, for these reasons I hope the US threats are neutralized otherwise the region will be enveloped in war, and if Russia and China stand by Iran as they should, knowing they will be next, a possibly WW3 scenario.

    • eljay on April 23, 2019, 7:30 pm

      || HarryLaw: We are entering the US end game in the Middle East, sanctioning Iranian oil by threatening other countries with secondary sanctions is contrary to International law, in fact it is an act of war in itself …
      Everything depends on China and Russia plus those other countries who must decide whether to continue Iranian oil purchases … ||

      With the U.S. wallowing around at the bottom of the morality barrel with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mali, African “hellholes”, etc., everything should depend on those other countries who must decide that international laws and human rights are worth upholding.

      So…where the hell are they and when will they step up and do what’s right?

      • HarryLaw on April 24, 2019, 5:54 am

        Those other counties have to realize what is at stake here, others like Germany have been put on notice by Trumps Ambassador not to trade with Iran, not to buy Russian gas [Nord stream 2] and to double its NATO expenditures to 2% of GDP immediately, then to 4% later, these are crazy sums of money [Germany’s GDP is over 4 Trillion dollars, to defend themselves against who precisely? Turkey and India have been threatened because they want to buy the S400 anti aircraft systems from Russia, all in all the US are threatening everyone, unfortunately for the US all that needs to happen is for one strong state to defy [successfully] the Empire, then unless the Empire can enforce its will, it’s all over, US credibility would be shot, [rather like the Mafia who are defied by one shopkeeper in a large complex.] The US “allowed eight countries to import Iranian crude oil without being subject to U.S. sanctions which would expire on May 2 without extension. The eight countries included are China, India, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Greece, Italy and Taiwan.
        This move is an extraordinarily foolish and reckless act which illustrates the extreme hubris and short-sightedness of those running American foreign policy under Trump. What the U.S. is decreeing to the entire world with this action is that the U.S., and the U.S. alone, decides who gets to trade with who. The U.S. is telling China, the second largest economy in the world and home to over one billion people, that it lacks the sovereign authority to buy oil from Iran if it so desires. If the U.S. can unilaterally play boss on the trade decisions of foreign countries, national sovereignty does not exist in practice anywhere on the planet. There is only empire.”

      • Tuyzentfloot on April 24, 2019, 7:15 am

        Elijah Magnier reports that Nasrallah said there is a high chance of war with Israel and that it would start with an attack on the leadership. In other words, they start the war when they can kill him.

    • Citizen on April 25, 2019, 1:54 pm

      Does it all depend on Bolton & Netanyahu?

  2. RoHa on April 23, 2019, 9:20 pm

    So now CENTCOM is offically a terrorist organization.

    • HarryLaw on April 24, 2019, 6:28 am

      CENTCOM did support terrorists in Syria
      Listen to Professor Jeffrey Sachs explain to a panel of guests how operation ‘Timber Sycamore worked in this must see Jimmy Dore show Also this…
      Operation Timber Sycamore is a clandestine operation, and such campaigns are not owned up to by those sponsoring them — at least, not typically. In this case, however, the operation has become one of such magnitude over time that Western powers have had to communicate something about it, albeit misleadingly. That is to say, succor to jihadist groups has long been described by Western government spokesmen as “non-lethal support” for so-called “moderate” rebels, yet the reality on the ground is that the “moderate rebel force” that is the Free Syria Army (FSA) has served as a pool of fighters, weapons and ammunition for the anti-Assad jihadist nebula, whose tacticians and militiamen were much more effective than the FSA itself.

  3. zaid on April 24, 2019, 1:33 am

    The USA is by far the worst country on earth

  4. Misterioso on April 24, 2019, 9:47 am

    @HarryLaw, et. al.

    Most relevant interview:

    “U.S. Foreign Policy Is Unraveling in Real Time”

    Truthdig, April 23/19

    “What follows is a conversation between Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson and Marc Steiner of the Real News Network. Read a transcript of their conversation below or watch the video at the bottom of the post.

    MARC STEINER: “Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner. Great to have you all with us. Trump is stepping up his campaign against Iran once again, announcing that he will end waivers that allowed eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil. He wants to drive Iranian oil exports to zero. All this comes on the heels of officially labeling the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and of course, forcing the U.S. to unilaterally pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Well what course are we on? Are we inching toward a war with Iran? Are these intensified sanctions just an alternative to all-out war? How could the U.S. just unilaterally impose international sanctions? Doesn’t that violate international law? Can he do it because the U.S. has a vital role in the international system of finance? Both Turkey and China have already announced they will not abide by Trump’s unilateral declaration of sanctions. Does this intensify our trade war with China? We’ll see. Joining us here at The Real News once again is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Chief-of-staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, retired from U.S. Army, and is now Distinguished Adjunct Professor at the College of William and Mary where he teaches U.S. National Security. I welcome and good to have you back with us here on The Real News.

    “COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON Good to be back again.”

  5. Rashers2 on April 24, 2019, 11:37 am

    I MUST be missing something here: the USA, having unilaterally and – to date – alone withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA ,the Lausanne Permanent Accord on Iran-nuclear), is instructing inter alia the world’s second-largest economy with the world’s largest (still, just) populace; and a large, developed economy with a population almost identical in size to Iran’s that is strategically situated where Europe segues into Asia and vice versa, to tear up (or, in Turkey’s case because it wasn’t a signatory, ignore) the JCPoA AND, in so doing, cause severe damage to these countries’ own economies, not to mention effectively bankrupting another signatory to the JCPoA, Iran, thereby turning some 80 million people into starving, seriously aggrieved potential refugees. Have I correctly understood the import of Pompeo’s announcement?
    Logically, the US Diktat on Iranian oil imports should be able to be neutralised if any or all of China, Russia (another signatory to the JCPoA), Turkey and the other countries affected by this illegitimate attempted embargo simply turned round and said, ”Sorry, Mr. Pompeo, this is none of your business. Stick your imperial extra-territorialism where the sun doesn’t shine.”
    One of the USA’s motives appears to be to elicit from Iran a reaction which could justify a military intervention by the USA and (perhaps..) its regional “allies”, resulting in untold death and destruction; and culminating in régime change. In the event of the Iranians’ not rising to this provocation but continuing to exercise restraint, however, it is entirely plausible – if shocking – that the pretext for military aggression will be arranged through (another) “false flag” incident or succession of incidents, which the infallible US intelligence services will trace immediately and beyond reasonable doubt to Tehran.
    In the scheme of things, this is big deal: the crisis the USA has created could escalate quickly and lead to conflict, possibly extending beyond the region. There are some questions begging, to which the MSM everywhere should (but aren’t) urgently be seeking answers, “Cui bono?” being the most obvious such. And who DOES stand to benefit from a major regional or global war over Iran?
    a) KSA: obvious economic benefits to its oil industry by stabilising a manufactured supply imbalance at higher prices; consolidates its position as dominant Middle Eastern producer; eliminates only serious rival for regional economic and political influence.
    b) USA: economic benefits from crisis of its own creation as a major exporter of oil; US MIC – always benefits from wars fought by USA, irrespective of outcomes; conforms with the personal, evangelical beliefs of Pompeo, Pence, Bolton et al. concerning the ultimate destiny of humanity and the necessity to protect and preserve a Jewish colonial occupation of Palestine*.
    c) Israel: eliminates political and military influence of Hezbollah in not one but two Northern neighbours, thereby paving the way for (further) territorial expansion and neutralising potentially hostile opposition to this; removes any potential, real or imagined, for the emergence of a second nuclear-armed power in the region; all, quite possibly, at the cost to it of not a single body-bag.
    Any Biblical considerations aside, it is quite difficult to see how either a) or c) or even a combination of both, brings the USA direct benefits sufficient to justify another foreign war for the USA, with all its attendant popularity risks.
    * Can’t someone tell these bastards that, as far as they’re concerned, all the Armageddon sh*t is exactly that – they’re already condemned to Hell for all eternity?

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