08/05/2019 – News / Business / Economics / Oil & Gas / Sanctions / US / Iran

Trump imposing sanctions on US allies over Iran oil is “logical escalation” of economic pressure, says legal expert

On Monday (22nd April) the White House announced that it is preparing to start imposing sanctions on key US allies unless they stop buying oil from Iran. Nelson Dong – senior partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney, member of the Board of Directors for both the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) and also the Washington State China Relations Council (WSCRC) – says the ending of sanctions waivers on the purchase of Iranian oil is a “logical and not-unexpected escalation” of America’s economic pressure on the Middle Eastern country.

“Only eight countries had been receiving such waivers in recent times, and all eight had been forewarned that the Administration was seriously considering the elimination of such waivers,” Mr Dong pointed out. Three of those eight buyers – Greece, Italy and Taiwan – have stopped importing Iranian oil. But the others had reportedly asked for their waivers to be extended. However, the White House said waivers for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves.


“The Trump Administration had already withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the face of strong opposition from its co-signers – the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.  It had also undone almost every step taken earlier by the Obama Administration to implement the JCPOA, such as cancelling the licenses granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to Boeing and Airbus to allow those manufacturers to sell new civilian airliners to Iran.,” he observed.


‘Maximum pressure’ strategy


“Apparently judging that enough of the eight countries had already taken self-protective measures to replace Iranian oil with other supplies and that the global oil markets had sufficient non-Iranian stocks to allow the other nations to adjust without undue burden, the Administration is adhering to its ‘maximum pressure’ strategy to isolate and punish Iran,” he continued. “It is doing so even if that strategy might have serious negative collateral consequences for allies such as Japan or South Korea, much less for perceived adversaries such as China,” he added.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that the Trump administration had “had extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply”, and that “this, in addition to increasing US production, underscores our confidence that energy markets will remain well supplied.”

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