No more sanction waivers for India, 7 others on Iranian oil

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The US' move which is seen as an escalation of President Trump administration's "maximum pressure" on Iran comes after it a year ago gave temporary 180-days waiver to eight countries, including India, China, Turkey and Japan among others.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday reiterated that Washington's goal was to bring down exports of Iranian oil to zero and added the United States had no plans to give any grace period beyond May 1 for countries to comply.

Since November, three of the eight - Italy, Greece and Taiwan - have stopped importing oil from Iran. This apparently will only directly impact five countries that had been receiving waivers since the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran's oil output.

The U.S. had granted eight oil sanctions waivers when it re-imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Ankara has been expecting Washington to renew the waivers.

The sanction waivers will affect Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China and India.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to announce that the Trump administration would not be renewing sanctions waivers it granted to eight importers of Iranian oil late previous year.

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If the Trump administration does confirm the end of waivers, this would have wide reverberations in two main directions: the US-China trade talks and the OPEC+ production cuts. Those five are economic powerhouses, though, and it might be hard to enforce the change in policy considering other priorities for the administration. Iran's biggest oil customers are China and India, both of which have been lobbying for an extension to the sanction waivers.

Since taking office, Trump has pursued a sanctions-heavy strategy aimed at undermining the Islamist leaders in Iran. The strait has been the site of repeated standoffs between Iran and the United States. The US has been also imposing more sanctions on Iranian military wings and proxies including a designation of the Iran revolutionary guard forces as foreign terrorist organization in early April, and new sanctions on Hezbollah.

The Iranian government has denounced the sanctions.

In the USA, working oil rigs fell by eight last week to 825 as explorers reduced activity in American fields for the first time in April amid investor demand for spending discipline. Trump had frequently criticized the accord, reached under predecessor Barack Obama, as "the worst deal ever".

United States officials have insisted they are not seeking "regime change". The odds of getting the sanctions band back together are slim indeed.

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