The Hill – The Trump administration plans to reimpose the last set of sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear deal early next week, administration officials announced Friday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in a call with reporters that the administration will grant waivers to eight “jurisdictions” when it reimposes oil and gas sanctions on Monday.
“This part of the campaign about which we’re speaking today is simple: It is aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues that it uses to spread death and destruction around the world,” Pompeo said.
“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves toward getting to zero crude oil importation.”
Pompeo did not specify which eight jurisdictions are getting waivers, saying a list would be released Monday. Asked if the use of the word “jurisdiction” meant that the European Union, a group of 28 countries, is getting waiver, Pompeo said the E.U. is not being granted a waiver.
In May, Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from what he once called the “worst deal ever negotiated.”
The 2015 agreement, reached by the Obama administration, gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
The agreement was between the United States, Iran, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia.
In withdrawing from the agreement, Trump gave companies and countries doing business with Iran two “wind-down” periods before the United States would reimpose sanctions.
The first 90-day period ended in August. At that point, the United States reimposed sanctions on transactions with U.S. dollar banknotes; trade in gold and precious metals; direct or indirect sales of graphite, raw or semi-finished metals; and Iran’s automotive sector.
But the more significant sanctions aren’t being reimposed until the end of the second, 180-day period. The last day of that period is Sunday, with sanctions set to be reimposed at midnight.
In addition to sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, Monday’s sanctions will target Iran’s shipping, shipbuilding and financial sectors.
Of the eight jurisdictions getting waivers for the energy sanctions, Pompeo said two will reduce their imports to zero within weeks, while the other six will import “at greatly reduced levels.”
Reports citing unnamed officials have said India, South Korea, Japan and Italy will be among the eight getting waivers.
The Trump administration has “made it clear that [the waivers] are temporary,” Pompeo said, arguing fewer exemptions are being granted than the Obama administration had done prior to the nuclear deal.
“Not only did we decide to grant many fewer exemptions, but we demanded much more serious concessions from these jurisdictions before agreeing to allow them to temporarily continue to import Iranian crude oil,” Pompeo said.
Speaking alongside Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also confirmed that the United States would not push for the total expulsion of Iran’s financial sector from a global banking network known as SWIFT.
The decision is likely to be a disappointment to Iran hardliners in Congress and elsewhere who have been pushing for Iran to be completely disconnected from the network.
Mnuchin, though, argued that there has been “misinformation” on the issue and said SWIFT will not be treated differently than any other entity doing business with Iran.
That means, he said, that SWIFT would be subject to U.S. sanctions if it provides financial messaging services to designated Iranian financial institutions.
“Just as was done before, humanitarian transactions to non-designated entities will be allowed to use the SWIFT messaging system as they have done before,” Mnuchin said, “but banks must be very careful that these are not disguised transactions or they could be subject to certain sanctions.”
Friday’s announcement drew immediate condemnation from those who supported the nuclear deal.
“These sanctions are a slap in the face to the Iranian people who have been squeezed between the repression of their government and the pressure of international sanctions for decades,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement. “Impoverishing ordinary Iranians will not hurt the regime or achieve any of America’s security interests, but it will set back the Iranian people’s aspirations for years to come.”