Washington has signaled for the first time that it might consider exempting countries from U.S. sanctions as long as they reduce their dependency on Iranian oil.
“We are going to very strongly enforce the Iran nuclear sanctions,’ says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday. “We’ve told our counterparts that we expect them to enforce the sanctions, but if there are specific situations, we’re open to listening.”
Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the remarks onboard Pompeo’s plane during their return trip from Mexico, where they held meetings with the government and president-elect on issues like border security, immigration and trade negotiations.
Following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal in May, his administration has warned countries to reduce their Iranian oil imports to zero or face U.S. sanctions, adding that no exemptions would be made.
Mnuchin who also said he would be discussing the issue with G20 finance ministers this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, expressed that there could be possibility or reconsideration as countries gradually reduce their dependency on Iranian oil.
“We’re not making any commitments,” Mnuchin said. “We want people to reduce oil purchases to zero, but in certain cases, if people can’t do that overnight, we’ll consider exemptions.”
The United States threat of sanctions sent oil prices surging last month, and U.S. crude spiked 3.3% to about $70.50 per barrel. This year alone, oil prices have climbed sharply, which in some part is due to concerns about U.S. sanctions on Iran disrupting supply from the OPEC nation.