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U.S. Is Not Looking To Renew Iran Sanctions Waivers

Brian Hook, Special Representative for Iran. File photo

U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, says Washington has no plan at this time to extend waivers to importers of Iranian oil.

"Iran's oil customers should not expect new waivers to U.S. sanctions", the top State Department official reiterated. The current exemptions are until May.

Brian Hook also said, "The November waivers were designed to prevent a spike in oil prices, and it appears that there will be enough oil supply to satisfy demand this year."

In an interview with the Japanese public broadcaster NHK in Washington, which was published on February 6, Hook insisted, "We are not looking to grant any future waivers or exceptions to our sanctions regime, whether it's oil or anything else," adding that the U.S. aims to "get to zero imports to Iranian crude as quickly as possible."

President Trump's Administration has exempted eight counties from its sanctions, allowing them to continue importing crude from Iran for six months, expiring next May.

However, the Islamic Republic's Oil Minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, admitted on Tuesday that even some countries exempted from U.S. sanctions, including Italy and Greece, refrain from buying Iranian oil without any explanation.

Furthermore, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh disclosed that Russia has recently bought the shares of an Indian oil refinery, but, New Delhi, despite being exempted by Washington, does not allow the Russians to buy Iranian oil for the refinery.

Iran's top oil buyers including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey received six-month "significant reduction exemptions" last November allowing them to continue oil deals with Tehran, in return for "promising to reduce their dependence on Iranian crude".

Taiwan is also on the list of the exempted countries, but it has decided to stop buying Iranian crude for the moment.

U.S. sanctions have almost halved Iran’s oil exports putting pressure on the country’s budget.

The head of the Islamic Republic's Plan and Budget Organization, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht acknowledged last month, "We are in dire straits when it comes to exporting oil. The drop in our oil exports has left us far behind $47 billion oil income predicted in Iran's 2017 budget."