New set of Iran sanctions
The United States has announced its intention to end all previous waivers for imports of Iranian oil.
Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, India and Turkey, which had received waivers in November, will have to do without Iran’s oil by May 1 if they do not want to face US sanctions. Iraq will not be able to import Iranian gas or electricity after the end of June.
The United States’ intent is to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran by depriving it of $50 billion of annual revenues. The new restrictions will only add to its woes. Despite Tehran’s claims, the sanctions will bite.
The United States seems to have set the stage for this new set of sanctions. To offset oil shortages, it says it reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for them to boost their output.
Washington’s declared purpose from stepping out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposing the subsequent sanctions is to force Tehran to curtail its nuclear enrichment and ballistic missile development programmes as well as end its use of regional proxies in the promotion of expansionist policies in places such as Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Iranian officials, who contend the Trump administration is after regime change, are escalating their threats of retaliation as are their proxies in the region.
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ navy threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway through which one-third of the world’s oil passes, if Tehran is not allowed to export its oil. “[I]f we are barred from using it, we will shut it down,” General Alireza Tangsiri said.
Using disagreements about the deployment in Hodeidah, Yemen, as a pretext, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, leader of the Iran-supported Houthis in Yemen, is threatening Gulf countries with strikes. “The missiles can reach Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai… vibrant and sensitive targets,” he said.
Affected by Iran’s budget woes as well as by specific US restrictions, Lebanese Hezbollah could be tempted to contribute to the escalation of regional tensions.
Iran said it will not go to the negotiating table before the United States lifts the sanctions and apologises to its regime. Dangerous brinksmanship seems more likely than a change in Iran’s policies.