US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE
President Donald Trump said the US would be ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 23 April 2019

US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

WASHINGTON:  US President Donald Trump moved on Monday to cut Iranian oil exports to zero by ending eight countries’ exemption from US sanctions on buyers of crude from Tehran.

China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece will now be subject to full US economic penalties if they buy oil from Iran after May 2.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US wanted to deprive Iran of its lifeline of $50 billion in annual oil revenues by halting all exports. “We are going to zero. We’re going to zero across the board,” he said.

“We’ve made clear — if you don’t abide by this, there will be sanctions. We intend to enforce the sanctions.”

The aim was to pressure Tehran to curtail its nuclear program, halt ballistic missile tests and end its regional meddling in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. “The Trump administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilizing activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies, and security in the Middle East,” the White House said.

The US said it was working with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ensure the oil market was “adequately supplied.” Pompeo said he was confident of Riyadh’s commitment to making sure there was sufficient supply in the market, and Trump said Saudi Arabia would “more than make up” for the absence of Iranian oil.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom was “monitoring oil market developments” and would coordinate with other producers to ensure a balanced market. Brent crude rose to more than $74 a barrel on Monday, the highest since November.

Saudi Arabia produces about 9.8 million barrels of oil per day but has the capacity for 12 million, so it could increase production to address any market shortfall, Faisal Mrza, a Saudi-based energy and oil marketing adviser, told Arab News.

“As the world energy industry’s only safety valve, Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer that can compensate for the loss of Iranian barrels,” he said. 

“Historically, Saudi Arabia has successfully proven its ability to maintain balance in the global markets, absorbing any supply shock caused by geopolitical or technical factors.”

(With Agencies)

 


Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 29 min 37 sec ago

Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Reduction means the lowest level of US forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban
  • Taliban welcome the US move, describing it as important in the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in February

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan National Security Council said on Saturday that the reduction of US forces in the country has no major impact on the security situation, as Washington announced it had met its goal of decreasing the number of troops to 2,500.

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

The troop reduction means the lowest level of American forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996.

“The reduction or increase of the American forces does not have any major negative impact on the fighting situation in Afghanistan,” Maulvi Rahmatullah, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, said in a video response to the Pentagon announcement.

However, Afghanistan’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, said in a BBC interview on Friday that the “pullout risks more violence in the unstable country.”

He added that the American mission, which began 20 years ago, is not yet accomplished and that the US had made a mistake by conceding too much to the Taliban.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have welcomed the US move, describing it as an important step toward the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in Doha, Qatar, in February last year, under which all US-led troops would leave Afghanistan within 14 months.

“We consider the decision as a good and effective step toward the implementation of the Doha agreement. We, the Islamic Emirate, are also committed to all sections of the Doha agreement,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Arab News on Saturday.

He said the Taliban hoped that the Doha agreement would be fully implemented and all American forces would leave Afghanistan in the agreed timeframe.

“We consider withdrawal of the troops and leaving Afghan soil as a positive step for the people of the US and Afghans, and welcome it,” Mujahid said.

While acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller said on Friday that the US was planning “further reducing US troop levels to zero by May of 2021,” he added that “any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based.”

As the Trump administration ends its term when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday, there have been few clues about what the new US government plans are for Afghanistan.