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US Wants to Swiftly Bring Iranian Crude Oil Exports to Zero

US Wants to Swiftly Bring Iranian Crude Oil Exports to Zero

Thursday, 14 March, 2019 - 07:00
FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at Lazienki Palace in Warsaw, Poland February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Washington - Heba El Koudsy

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stressed Washington’s commitment to swiftly bring Iranian crude oil exports to zero, saying Tehran’s role in the energy market has been diminishing due to US pressure.

Washington reimposed oil sanctions on Iran last year, sharply reducing its volume of crude exports in the past several months in an effort to curb Tehran’s nuclear, missile and regional activities.

“We’re committed to bringing Iranian crude oil exports to zero as quickly as market conditions will permit,” Pompeo said in a speech at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, where US oil and gas executives, energy luminaries and officials of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries gather annually to discuss global energy development.

“You know its role in global energy markets. We know that role is diminishing. Its exports have tanked due to our pressure campaign,” he said.

“Iran uses its energy exports to exert undue influence all across the Middle East, most particularly today on Iraq. While the United States is working to develop an independent, sovereign Iraq, Iran is using its energy to create a vassal state,” Pompeo added.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative on Iran, also said in remarks at the CERAWeek energy conference that Iran has lost $10 billion in revenue since US sanctions in November have removed about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude from global markets.

Trump “has made it very clear that we need to have a campaign of maximum economic pressure” on Iran, Hook said, “but he also doesn’t want to shock oil markets, he wants to ensure a stable and well-supplied oil market. That policy has not changed.”

“When you have a better supplied oil market it enables us to accelerate our path to zero. But we also know that there are a lot of variables that go into a well-supplied and stable oil market,” said Hook, a senior policy adviser to Pompeo.

Sigal Mandelker, US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, briefed the House Committee on Appropriations on the establishment of the Iran Finance Fusion Cell to monitor Tehran’s activities.

“Last November, we re-imposed all of the US sanctions authorities previously lifted under the Iran nuclear agreement, and added over 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels onto our sanctions list on a single day. As part of that, we designated 70 Iran-linked financial institutions and subsidiaries. This brings the total number of Iran-related sanctions targets under this Administration to 927 entities, individuals, vessels, and aircraft,” she said.

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