Iran urges United Nations to hold Washington accountable over 'illegal' sanctions

Eileen GuzmanNov 06, 2018

South Korea, one of Asia's biggest buyers of Iranian oil, had asked Washington for an exemption, given that petrochemicals are key to its economy and the sanctions would exact a toll on the country's businesses.

The price pressure on oil has scared off financial traders. United Nations monitors say Iran still abides by the deal, in which it agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.

The Trump administration on Monday released a list of sanctions against hundreds of entities throughout Iran's economy, promising to exert more pressure on the nation's regime.

The sanctions are part of US President Donald Trump's effort to curb Iran's missile and nuclear programs and diminish its influence in the Middle East.

"The Americans constantly said they would reduce the sale of Iran's oil to zero but I have to say that so far, we have been able to sell our required amounts of oil", the Tasnim news agency quoted Jahangiri as saying.

The new sanctions were lifted under the Obama administration's 2015 nuclear deal, which was also signed by the U.K., France, Germany, China, and Russian Federation.

Monday's actions designate 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries, more than 200 individuals and vessels in Iran's energy and shipping sector and an Iranian airline and its 65 aircraft.

The 180-day period came to a close this week, restoring a heavier slate of sanctions on Iran than a first round that went into effect after the 90-day grace period. They will also affect non-Iranian companies that deal with sanctioned Iranian firms and officials.

Pompeo said more than 20 countries have already cut oil imports from Iran, reducing purchases by more than 1 million barrels per day. Among those are the biggest buyers of Iran's oil, China and India, as well as other key U.S. allies - Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Greece, and Taiwan. "But on oil, we want to go a little bit slow because I don't want to drive the oil prices in the world up", Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington on Monday before leaving on a campaign trail for the mid-term polls. "I don't support this policy, but if you are going down this path, it's a way to lessen the risk of economic blowback in America". India, the world's largest democracy, plays a critical role in the administration's "Indo-Pacific" strategy, which seeks to unite countries in the region into forming a bloc to counter China's growing assertiveness. In September, there was no import of Iranian oil, according to the nation's state-run oil agency. For some waiver recipients, domestic concerns were paramount. It had been consultation with the Trump administration since the U.S. pullout from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said two of the eight will wind down Iranian oil imports to zero in "weeks", and that the six others will import "at greatly reduced levels". Imposing maximal economic pressure on Iran is vital for getting Tehran back to the table, he said. Some leading Iran hawks appeared to agree with the administration's approach.

"There are a lot of questions about the sanctions, about waivers", said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Seoul was also granted an exemption to continue financial transactions with Iran's central bank, allowing South Korea to continue trading oil as well as nonsanctioned items with Iran, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.

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