Iran President Hassan Rouhani greets European Union’s Federica Mogherini, Tehran, July 28, 2015
UPDATE 1130 GMT:
A “senior Administration official” says the US has agreed waivers for eight countries — including Japan, India, and South Korea — to buy some Iranian oil after comprehensive sanctions take effect on Sunday>
While the Trump Administration has pledged to reduce Iran oil exports to zero, the official confirmed that waivers are being granted so global prices will not spike.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce the exemptions later Friday.
Indian officials said earlier this week that agreement had been reached for Delhi to reduce imports by 1/3 until March, when the waiver will be reviewed.
China, Iran’s leading customer is among the eight countries and is still in discussions with the US on terms, according to “two people familiar with the discussions”.
Beijing has ordered two leading Chinese State companies to suspend purchases in November.
The global oil price has fallen about 15% from more than $85 a barrel in the past month, on the expectation of some waivers and increased output from OPEC members.
Oil futures were at $73.16 a barrel in London on Friday, while US West Texas Intermediate is trading at $63.63 a barrel in New York.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has made a last-ditch appeal to Europe before comprehensive US sanctions are imposed on Sunday.
In a Friday article in London’s Financial Times, Rouhani proclaimed a shared European-Iranian interest in”peace and stability” through “multilateralism”.
He made only a brief reference to Iran’s protracted negotiations with the European Union for trade and investment links despite the American restrictions, including on the energy and financial sectors. The sanctions were ordered by Donald Trump in May when he withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China).
Instead, he portrayed Europe as confronted by “economic issues, social crises, the predicament of refugees, xenophobia, terrorism and extremism”, blaming the US for all of these.
Before any reference to the nuclear issue, Rouhani declared “US complicity in the daily atrocities in Yemen” and “the humiliation and gradual perishing of the great nation of Palestine”. He even claimed American support for the Islamic State.
More broadly, US President Donald Trump’s approach to matters of trade, international treaties and the humiliating manner in which he treats even America’s allies, illustrates how US foreign policy has posed new challenges to the global order.
In brief, the US administration’s policies of unilateralism, racial discrimination, Islamophobia, and the undermining of important international treaties, including the Paris Climate Accord, are fundamentally incompatible with multilateralism and other socio-political norms valued by Europe.
The President then hailed the nuclear deal as “a great victory for diplomacy in our time” and implicitly raised Iran’s efforts for European guarantees to continue business despite the threat of US punishment: “It is essential that the European parties, as well as China and Russia, present and implement their final proposed package of measures to compensate for and mitigate the effects of America’s newest unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions before they are imposed.”
The EU has said that it will bring in blocking measures to protect companies from American retribution, but has been unable to secure funds to protect large companies from the prospect of billions of dollars in fines. As a result, firms such as French energy giant Total and auto manufacturers Peugeot and Renault, German conglomerate Siemens and rail and engineering Deutsche Bahn, the world’s largest shipper Maersk, French aviation manufacturer Airbus, and airlines like KLM, Air France, and British Airways have suspended business with the Islamic Republic.
European officials have protested the Trump Administration’s plans, but have been muted in recent days as the sanctions date approaches.
Iran’s economy faces crisis with production, investment, employment, and a currency which has fallen 70% this year. Inflation, which had been reduced to single digits by the Rouhani Administration, has resurged to a 37% annual rate.
But the President insisted on Wednesday that it is the US which is failing: “Our people need to rest assured that the government is not afraid of US threats.”