The U.S. will not renew “temporary waivers” that allowed eight countries, such as South Korea and Japan to import Iranian crude oil, according to U.S. media reports from the likes of The Washington Post and The Associated Press on Sunday (local time). The decision appears to be a move by the Trump administration, which has been imposing tough sanctions against Iran, to target Iran’s main source of revenueㅡits oil exports.
According to the news outlet, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce the decision to end waivers on Iran oil sanctions on Monday. Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin wrote that the measure is intended to end Iran’s “illicit behavior around the world.” The U.S. State Department is ratcheting up the administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran, for example, by designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization earlier this month.
The South Korean government will send its team of negotiators to Washington around April 24 to discuss the issue but exceptions are not likely to be admitted. “I heard that the U.S. turned down the request of Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono to renew Iranian oil waivers for Japan at the recent U.S.-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations,” said one diplomatic source. “European countries have also been notified by the U.S. of its decision to eliminate Iran oil waivers.”
The domestic oil refining and petrochemical industry are baffled by the news. Iranian crude oil accounted for 5.4 percent of the total oil import of South Korea in January and February this year, according to the Korean Petroleum Association on Monday. Although the number may not be high, domestic businesses’ heavy dependence on Iranian condensates could have a severe impact on the productivity and profitability of Korean businesses.
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