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‘Zero Tolerance For Iranian Oil Purchases. Period,’ Says US

China is one of the world’s biggest importers of Iranian oil, along with India

DESPARDES News Monitor — The United States will sanction any country which buys oil from Iran after the expiration of waivers on May 2, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Thursday.

Sanctions would be imposed “even if a country had not met its previously-negotiated purchase caps,” Hook said in a statement. “Our firm policy is to completely zero out purchases of Iranian oil. Period.”

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The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Thursday that countries like China and India which were issued waivers in November to buy Iranian could continue the purchases after May 2 until they reached a negotiated cap.

China is one of the world’s biggest importers of Iranian oil, along with India and is not too happy about the sanctions.

The sanction waivers were granted to China, India and six other countries last year. They expired May 2.

Analysts say China is unlikely to completely stop importing oil from Iran.”We are debating whether or not China will cease their imports. We’re leaning towards they won’t,” Matt Sallee, portfolio manager at energy investment firm Tortoise, told CNN Business.

Last month, China purchased 43 percent more crude from Saudi Arabia, making the Middle Eastern OPEC kingpin once again the top supplier to the world’s second-biggest economy.

According to BBC energy analyst Syed Rashid Hussain, two, rather, three issues seem at work.

“With the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S., Beijing didn’t buy any crude and products from Washington. That compelled China to look for other sources,” said Syed.

According to him, “Saudi Arabia is almost next door.”

Secondly, he said, despite officially not accepting the U. S. dictates about Iran, China also didn’t want to infuriate the hawks in Washington to continue with their anti-China rhetoric.”

“Beijing thus may not have stopped buying from Iran, yet the volumes have gone down considerably. 

“Who could have filled up the gap? Saudi Arabia did. And then the crude uptake from Saudi Arabia by the Chinese petrochemical company. All this contributed to the increased oil volumes from Riyadh.”

India, meanwhile, said last month it will be able to offset the reduction in Iranian exports, even though it has previously said that it only recognizes sanctions by the United Nations.

Wall Street analyst Dr. Hafiz Khan says the sanctions, the Iran oil, the trade war, the tensions in the Middle East, and even the Afghan peace talks have correlations. “Dangerous game though, but President Trump seems to remain popular in opinion polls, and somewhat focused on 2020 election for a second run– Spygate notwithstanding.”