The United States is set to announce on Monday that all countries including India, which are currently importing Iranian crude oil, will either have to end their imports completely or be subjected to US sanctions.
US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo will announce on Monday that from May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waiver to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate, The Washington Post reported quoting two State Department officials on Sunday.
In November last year, the State Department had issued 180-day waivers to eight countries to give them more time to find alternative sources of oil.
The decision to end waivers has been viewed as US President Donald Trump's maximum pressure on Tehran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.
Three of the eight countries, including Greece, Italy and Taiwan, which received the U.S. waivers, have already reduced their Iranian oil imports to zero.
The other countries that will now have to cut off Iranian oil imports or be subject to U.S. sanctions are China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
China and India are currently the largest importers of Iranian oil. If the respective countries fail to pay heed to Trump's demands it may cause tensions in bilateral relations.
South Korea and Japan are relatively less dependent on Iranian oil and have already been treading lightly.
The measures, expected to have implications on the oil markets, were decided after Trump discussed the issue with the United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan last Thursday.
"The policy of zero Iranian imports originated with Secretary Pompeo," a senior State Department official was quoted as saying.
"He has executed this policy in tight coordination with the president every step of the way. Because the conditions to not grant any more significant reduction exceptions (SREs) have now been met, we can now announce zero imports," the official added.
Trump has said he wants the Iranian regime to come back to the negotiating table and strike a better deal than the one signed by former President Barack Obama. However, Iran has refuted Trump's order, saying that it has no intention of doing so.
"The goal of the policy is to drive up the costs of Iran's malign behaviour and more strongly address the broad range of threats to peace and security their regime presents," the State Department official was quoted as saying.
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