U.S. might temporarily exempt some countries from Iran sanctions

The Trump administration said it may give some countries more time to comply with newly restored sanctions on Iranian oil, amid concerns that the U.S.-led sanctions are already spiking fuel and oil prices upward.
By Rick Docksai | Jul 17, 2018
The Trump administration hinted Friday at giving some countries more time to fall into line with newly restored U.S. sanctions on Iran. In a press conference that was barred from public release until Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the administration will consider issuing some countries temporary waivers from the sanctionswith the expectation that they will gradually wean themselves completely off Iranian oil.

"We want people to reduce oil purchases to zero, but in certain cases if people can't do that overnight, we'll consider exceptions," Mnuchin said.

U.S. sanctions on Iran went back into effect in May, when Trump announced that he was taking the United States out of the 2015 nuclear accord. This accord had suspended sanctions in return for Iran complying with dismantling its nuclear-weapons program.

The restored sanctions forbid any importing of Iranian oil and drastically limit most other Iranian imports. They also prohibit any business dealings with Iran's energy, financial, shipping, insurance, and automotive industries and bar sales of commercial airplanes to Iran.

The sanctions have been active since May, but the administration at the time gave any companies or governments with existing commercial contracts in Iran a "wind-down" period of 90-180 days to end them. That period ends November 4, and the administration has said that any country importing oil from Iran or otherwise violating the sanctions from that day forward could incur penalties.

U.S. officials initially said that there would be no sanctions waivers, but Mnuchin and other administration officials have backed away from that stance. They do so partly amid warnings that the sanctions will raise oil and fuel prices in the United States and could further roil global oil markets, where prices have already been climbing for the past year.

Oil prices dropped shortly after Mnuchin's comments.

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