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Trump administration tightens US sanctions on Iranian oil purchases

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration on Monday announced that it was ending all exceptions to its ban on buying Iranian oil, subjecting several countries, including allies, to punishing sanctions.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said the move was to intensify its "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran, aimed at squeezing its economy and forcing the ouster of its current leaders.

The announcement was expected. Six months ago, the administration threatened all countries with sanctions if they continued to import Iranian oil. It granted waivers to eight economies, allowing them six months to wean themselves off Iranian oil. The waivers expire May 1.

"We are going to zero across the board," Pompeo told reporters. The goal, he said, is to "deprive the outlaw regime" of money it uses to "destabilize" the Middle East. The administration accuses Iran of supporting militant groups from Lebanon to Yemen.

Pompeo said he believed that the measures, launched when President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 international Iran nuclear accord, so far had deprived Tehran of $10 billion in revenue. He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would step up petroleum production to ensure there were "appropriate supplies" in the market.

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The countries who now face sanctions include staunch U.S. allies such as India, Japan and South Korea, as well as Turkey and China. Rounding out the list are Italy, Greece and Taiwan.

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