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Exemptions to 8 countries on Iran sanctions to keep oil prices in check: US

Mike Pompeo said that eight countries -- India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey -- were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

on Monday defended his decision to give temporary exemptions to eight countries, including and China, from the ban on Iranian imports, saying it was done so to keep global prices down and avoid causing a shock to the market.

The US on Monday imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on a defiant aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour". The sanctions cover Iran's and and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian imports.

However, said that eight countries -- India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, and -- were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil as they showed "significant reduction" in from the country.

"We have the toughest sanctions ever imposed. But on oil, we want to go a little bit slow because I don't want to drive the in the world up," Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews outside on Monday before leaving on a campaign trail for the mid-term polls.

He, however, emphasised that his effort to keep the down has nothing to do with

When asked about his decision to give temporary exemptions to eight countries from the ban on Iranian oil imports, Trump said, "I'm not looking to be a great hero and bring it down to zero immediately. I could get the oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market. I don't want to lift "

"If you notice, oil prices are going down very substantially, despite the fact that already half of their capacity is gone. But I don't want to do that," he said.

"I saw some people saying, 'Oh, why aren't you tougher on that?' Well, the sanctions are very tough and I don't want to lift the oil prices worldwide by clamping down 100 per cent. It will be gradual," the US said.

However, the leadership criticized Trump for giving exemptions to some of the major Iranian

said, "Rather than achieving its stated goal of eliminating Iran's altogether, the administration has issued 'exemptions' for major Iranian oil importers, allowing Iran to earn billions of dollars from "

"These exemptions are premised on significant reductions of Iranian by countries such as and when there is minimal evidence of such reductions. This waters down the integrity of sanctions and communicates to the rest of the world that others do not have to abide by the US restrictions," he said.

Hoyer alleged that by "tearing" up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the has isolated the and undermined the multilateral efforts to curb Iran's "dangerous" behaviour.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said by reinstating sanctions without justification, Trump is pitting the US gainst European allies and increasing its reliance on at a time when that country is "implicated in a plot to assassinate" on foreign soil a journalist and its outspoken critic.

"The downside risks to this policy are manifold it could cause Iran to restart its nuclear enrichment efforts, bringing us closer to a military confrontation," he said.

Schiff said, "The Trump administration's unilateral re-imposition of these sanctions will also accelerate efforts to facilitate transactions through alternative financial channels that are not reachable by the US sanctions and into which we will have limited visibility."

US claimed that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran failed to "permanently block all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb".

"Further, its negotiators failed to secure any restrictions on Iran's other destabilizing activities, including the regime's ballistic missile development and proliferation," he told a audience.

Democratic Senator Tom Udall, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "Led by people like John Bolton, who believe that we should bomb Iran, I fear the is marching toward another catastrophic war in the "

"This administration's reckless withdrawal from the JCPOA has squandered our best opportunity to prevent a nuclear Iran, moving us closer to a military conflict that the American people don't want all while undercutting our most importance alliances abroad," he said.

But Senator Bob Corker, the of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the deserves credit for re-imposing sanctions and dramatically reducing Iran's and revenues.

Imposing maximal economic pressure on Iran is vital for getting back to the table, he said.

In May, Trump had pulled the US out of the 2015 landmark JCPOA terming it as disastrous". Under the Obama-era deal, involving five permanent members of the and Germany, Iran had agreed to stop its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

After the US' withdrawal from the deal, Trump signed fresh sanctions against Iran, which claims its nuclear programme is peaceful and for civilian purpose.

First Published: Tue, November 06 2018. 10:45 IST