US ‘not looking to grant further Iran oil waivers’

Brian Hook declined to say what the Trump administration would do when import waivers on Iran oil for certain countries expired in May. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 13 January 2019
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US ‘not looking to grant further Iran oil waivers’

ABU DHABI: The US is not looking to grant more waivers for Iranian oil imports after the reimposition of US sanctions, the US special representative for Iran said on Saturday, underlining Washington’s push to choke off Tehran’s income.

“We are not looking to grant any waivers or exemptions to the import of Iranian crude,” Brian Hook told a industry conference in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi.

Washington granted waivers to eight major buyers of Iranian oil — including China, India, Japan and South Korea — after restoring energy sanctions in November.

Hook declined to say what the administration in Washington would do when those waivers end in May.

“Iran is now increasingly feeling the economic isolation that our sanctions are imposing ... We do want to deny the regime revenues,” Hook said.

“Eighty percent of Iran’s revenues come from oil exports and this is (the) number one state sponsor of terrorism ... We want to deny this regime the money it needs,” he added.

Tensions between Iran and the US have increased since May, when US President Donald Trump 
abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, saying the accord was flawed in Tehran’s favor, and reintroduced sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the pact.

“We want a new and better deal (with Iran) but in that process we are denying the Iranian regime billions and billions of dollars and they are facing a liquidity crisis,” Hook said.

The Islamic Republic, he added, would not return to the negotiating table without pressure.

Tehran has refused to renegotiate its nuclear accord and says its ballistic missile program — another source of concern for Washington and its regional allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia — is solely defensive and untouchable.

Hook said Washington was pleased with China cutting its oil imports from Iran, and that he expected much deeper reductions in Iranian oil exports. “We are just getting started,” he said.

Iran’s crude exports will be severely curtailed for a third month in January as it struggles to find new buyers amid the sanctions, according to tanker data and industry sources.

Separately, Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi told the conference that Washington had not asked the Gulf Arab state to stop a gas pipeline project with Iran and that talks were continuing.

He said some partners for the project had pulled out because of the risk of punishment by Washington for dealing with Iran but that some other Asian firms were willing to take part.


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.