U.S. threatens to sanction China over Iran oil imports

Lester Mason
August 18, 2018

Trump said the deal did not do enough to curb what he and USA allies have said are "malign" Iranian behaviors, such as its support for militant groups in the Middle East and development of ballistic missiles.

Brian Hook, who had served as director of policy planning under Pompeo and his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, will lead the initiative as the Special Representative for Iran, reporting directly to the secretary of state, Pompeo said.

"Brian Hook, who has been appointed as special representative and chief of a new Iran Action Group at the State Department, said the US would issue waivers from sanctions to countries that have made efforts to reduce their Iranian oil purchases". Hook led the Trump administration's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to negotiate changes to the nuclear deal with European allies before the president decided in May to pull out of the accord.

CBS News' Kylie Atwood reports that the State Department now faces a November 4th deadline when sanctions will be reimposed on those who are importing Iranian oil.

The US "certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations", Hook said, while noting that Washington's goal is to "reduce every country's import of Iranian oil to zero by November 4".

Trump has since warned that countries doing business with Iran will "NOT be doing business with the United States" as his administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran earlier this month.

Crude oil is the number-one target of the sanctions, and Washington officials have been very busy in the last few months trying to secure commitments from its allies that they will stop importing Iranian oil.

To explain the policy and convince others to comply with it, the administration has already dispatched teams of diplomatic and financial officials to two dozen countries. Hook didn't provide any names, but said "in time we'll be happy to talk about it".

Overall, he said, the new team will concentrate on implementing the policy outlined by Pompeo in a speech in May.

Hook said the USA wants to "promote a brighter future for the Iranian people", adding that the "Iran regime has been a force for instability and violence".

"That is our strategy", Hook said.

On Thursday, Pompeo slammed the deal as "flawed", vowing to pressure Tehran in a campaign of support for the "long-suffering Iranian people". On Monday, Iran's supreme leader rejected the possibility of talks with President Trump.

Hook had been negotiating with Washington's European allies to comply with USA sanctions on Iran's oil sector. IHS Markit assesses that the minimum requirement for the U.S. is for Iran to reduce the threat it poses to Israel and Saudi Arabia, through negotiating a new agreement on the nuclear issue that includes reductions to Iran's ballistic missile programme, the reduction of support for the Houthi Movement in Yemen, and no further expansion of Hizbullah or similar organisations in Syria.

Hook insisted that any overlap between Thursday's announcement and the anniversary of the US-backed 1953 coup against Iran's democratically elected government was "pure coincidence", despite speculation about the administration's views on regime change. "The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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