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Our Iran Policy Is Run By Fanatics

The Trump administration won’t be issuing any more waivers [1] to importers of Iranian oil:

The Trump administration is poised to tell five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran.

U.S. officials say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to announce on Monday that the administration will not renew sanctions waivers for the five countries when they expire on May 2.

Refusing to offer new sanctions waivers is the latest sign that Trump is once again giving in to the most extreme Iran hawks. When sanctions on Iran’s oil sector went into effect last November, the administration initially granted waivers to the top importers of Iranian oil to avoid a spike in the price of oil, but that is now coming to an end. The economic war that the U.S. has been waging against Iran over the last year is about to expand to include some of the world’s biggest economies and some of America’s leading trading partners. It is certain to inflict more hardship on the Iranian people, and it will damage relations between the U.S. and other major economic powers, including China and India, but it will have no discernible effect on the Iranian government’s behavior and policies. India, China, and Turkey are practically guaranteed to ignore U.S. demands that they eliminate all Iranian oil imports.

Josh Rogin reported [2] on the same story:

The decision to end waivers has implications for world oil markets, which have been eagerly anticipating President Trump’s decision on whether to extend waivers. The officials said market disruption should be minimal for two reasons: supply is now greater than demand and Pompeo is also set to announce offsets through commitments from other suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Trump spoke about the issue Thursday with the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Between the administration’s Venezuela and Iran oil sanctions and increased instability in Libya (also supported by the Trump administration), oil prices are nonetheless likely to rise. Even if they don’t, Trump’s Iran obsession is causing significant economic dislocation for no good reason as part of a regime change policy that can’t and won’t succeed. It cannot be emphasized enough that the reimposition of sanctions on Iran is completely unwarranted and represents a betrayal of previous U.S. commitments to Iran and our allies under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The decision to refuse any new sanctions waivers is a clear sign that the most fanatical members of the Trump administration have prevailed in internal debates and U.S. Iran policy is held hostage to their whims.

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7 Comments To "Our Iran Policy Is Run By Fanatics"

#1 Comment By liberal On April 21, 2019 @ 11:44 pm

Maybe Trump will reap the benefits of this if oil prices go up a lot and it torpedos his reelection in 2020.

One thing I’m really not clear on…how are these proposed sanctions against third parties (e.g. Japan, etc etc) not a violation of trade agreements? Are there escape clauses in those agreements that allow the US to do these things, or is it merely that these other countries are (usually) not willing to rely on the trade agreements’ protections because, at the end of the day, it would mean a trade war with the US, which they’re not willing to countenance?

#2 Comment By JR On April 22, 2019 @ 6:27 am

One would be naive to expect any truth from Pompeo. Self satisfied creature considers this funny too. How deep can one sink..

#3 Comment By cosmo On April 22, 2019 @ 7:19 am

Iran policy ??? What about foreign policy in general ?? Interventionism is NOT what Americans want, or can afford! No more lives & limbs (and dollars) for foreign countries!!

#4 Comment By Dry Dock On April 22, 2019 @ 8:34 am

“Between the administration’s Venezuela and Iran oil sanctions and increased instability in Libya (also supported by the Trump administration), oil prices are nonetheless likely to rise. Even if they don’t, Trump’s Iran obsession is causing significant economic dislocation for no good reason “

But there is a good reason. Forcing up oil prices is a shot in the arm for the Saudi economy. Remember “Israel first, and Saudi Arabia second”. That formula explains most of Trump’s foreign policy, the rest being a jumble of random impulses and the consequences of infighting among his advisors.

#5 Comment By KXB On April 22, 2019 @ 10:24 am

Gas is already $3.20 in the Chicago suburbs, and we are not into the summer driving season yet. Overseas – India is going to the poll. India imports most of its oil, and Iran is a major supplier. Yes, the Saudis have been trying to get India to switch over to more Saudi imports – but it would look like “strong” Modi is giving in to Trump and MBS.

#6 Comment By TheSnark On April 22, 2019 @ 10:59 am

We are going to sanction China for buying Iranian oil? Does anyone seriously think they are going to submit to that gracefully? Japan and Korea might, they are much smaller and stuck with us. But China?

And I seriously doubt that sanctioning India for buying Iranian oil will advance our strategic alliance with them, either.

#7 Comment By Oleg Gark On April 22, 2019 @ 12:35 pm

You can bet that Pompeo & Bolton are working hard to figure out how to blame Iran for the Sri Lanka bombings.

They desperately want a war with Iran regardless of what their fellow Americans want.