US ramps up pressure on Iran, calls on allies to stop buying oil

The Trump administration called on its allies to stop buying oil from Iran in a bid to weaken the Islamic Republic.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States confirmed Tuesday that the government has asked countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil by November 4th as it ramps up economic pressure on the Islamic Republic.

In May, the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Asked if they were passing this message along to everyone, including China – a major importer of Iranian oil – an unnamed State Department official said, “Yes, we are asking them to go to zero,” noting that if they do not comply, their companies will be sanctioned by the United States.

The official added that a US delegation is going to the Middle East next week to urge the big oil-producing countries in the Gulf to take up the slack as Iran will be cut out of the market when the American sanctions are re-imposed.

November 4th will mark the end of the 180-day window for countries to wind down their economic relations with Iran since President Donald Trump left the “terrible” agreement that limited controls on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that had crippled the country.

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Iran’s European allies, in an attempt to preserve the deal, have been urging the US administration to exempt certain companies from punishment if they continue doing business with Tehran. The American official said that officially the rule was “No, we’re not granting waivers,” although he “would be hesitant to say zero waivers ever.”

The Iranian economy has plunged since the US left the nuclear deal – even before the sanctions were put back into place. The currency is almost worthless (currently one USD costs 90,000 rials), and thousands of protestors have returned to the streets of Tehran over the last three days.

“Help us, not Gaza,” and “Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran” are some of the slogans the demonstrators have shouted, angry at the billions of dollars the regime spends on projecting its power in regional skirmishes and supporting terrorist organizations instead of helping its own citizens.

There have yet to be mass arrests, although AP reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, during a meeting with judiciary officials on Wednesday, that authorities need to ensure an “atmosphere of security” and “must confront those who disrupt economic security.”