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(CNSNews.com) – The Trump administration does not believe any of the small handful of remaining countries that buy Iranian oil will risk U.S. sanctions by continuing to do so after waivers currently in place expire on May 2, Iran special representative Brian Hook said Monday.
He was speaking hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the waivers will not be renewed beyond that date – and that no grace periods will be given.
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“We’re going to zero across the board,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, adding that no waivers would be extended beyond May 2, “full stop.”
“We don’t anticipate that countries are going to choose to risk being sanctioned,” Hook told Bloomberg TV. “To date no country has.”
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The countries affected by Monday’s announcement are China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. China and India have been the biggest importers of Iranian oil in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
China and Turkey strongly criticized the announcement, but the Indian, Japanese and South Korean governments reacted cautiously, declining to make any substantive public comment.
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Overall, Iran’s oil exports have dropped from more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) when President Trump last May announced the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement to around one million bpd now, according to the administration.
Hook recalled that not that long ago more than 20 countries were buying oil from Iran and were no longer doing so.
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“There’s no hint at all that they want to run afoul of American sanctions,” he said, adding that he did not expect the remaining customer countries would want to do so either.
“We’re essentially giving countries a choice: You can either do business with the United States, or you can import Iranian crude oil. And given that choice it’s not a hard decision.”
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