US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday morning April 29th that the United States is applying maximum pressure on Tehran to force a change in its military adventurism, with the United States seeking to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero.
In his remarks in a conversation on the US administration’s foreign policy priorities with The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack at the Council on Foreign Relations, Pompeo said the US will ensure the oil market is well supplied once Iran oil waivers are removed, indicating that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would make up the shortfall and boost oil production to offset the loss of Iranian oil.
Pompeo warned countries and companies that it would be a costly mistake to violate US sanctions by importing Iranian oil after Wednesday, when the waivers for eight importers end.
China, India and Turkey are among Iran’s largest oil importers that were granted waivers from US sanctions to allow them time to find alternative supplies.
Pompeo also expressed confidence that trade talks between the United States and China will not be affected by the end of Iran oil waivers. “We have had lots of talks with China about this issue. I’m confident that the trade talks will continue and run their natural course.”
The Tramp administration says it wants to deprive Iran of $50 billion in annual oil revenues to pressure it to end its nuclear and missile programmes. The White House says it is working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ensure an adequate world oil supply.
In a report released Monday, the International Monetary Fund is forecasting Iran's economy to shrink by 6% this year as it faces pressure from US sanctions. The report indicated that the US sanctions may raise the inflation rate to top 40%.
Last week, Pompeo announced the ending of waivers that have allowed some Iranian oil buyers to continue making their purchases despite new sanctions that went into effect last year.
The Trump administration is due to formally end the waivers on Thursday for some of Iran's top crude purchasers, including China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview broadcast on Fox News, accused the United States of trying to "bring Iran to its knees" and overthrow its government by seeking to thwart its international oil trade.
He said US officials are "wrong in their analysis. They are wrong in their hope and illusions." Zarif also said a group consisting of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US national security adviser John Bolton, and leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is trying to push President Trump "into a confrontation he doesn't want." "They have tried to bring the US into a war," Zarif said, with the goal, "at least," of Iranian regime change.
Bolton, appearing on the same Fox News programme, said the US goal is not regime change but a change in behaviour, specifically an end to Iran's nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile testing.
"The Iranian people deserve a better government," Bolton said. He called Zarif's accusations "completely ridiculous, an effort to sow disinformation."