United States expected to end sanctions waivers for Iran oil imports

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference to announce the Trump administration's plan to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a

US to end sanctions waivers for major Iranian oil importers

"Full stop", U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced at a state department briefing on Monday, signaling an end to a almost year-long breathing room the Trump administration had given to eight countries, including India and China, after putting them on notice to stop buying Iranian oil. Brent crude futures rose 3 percent to $74.31 per barrel, the highest level since last November 1.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed by as much as 2.9 per cent to $65.87, the highest since October 31, and was last up $1.50 at $65.50. It was up $2.18 at $74.15 at 1221 GMT.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Monday that he believed global oil markets would be able to handle the United States decision to force buyers of Iranian oil to either end imports or face sanctions, despite Monday's surge in oil prices.

President Donald Trump has decided not to reissue the waivers when they expire on May 2, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

A person familiar with the situation confirmed to Reuters that the report was accurate, although a State Department spokesman declined to comment.

Oil prices held their gains after surging to their highest point since late 2018 overnight on reports of the USA policy shift, which was made official by the White House early Monday.

Three of those waivers, for Greece, Italy and Taiwan, are no longer needed because they have all halted their imports of Iranian oil.

The US put the sanctions back on Iranian oil exports after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.

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"We will no longer grant any exemptions", Pompeo said.

President Donald Trump made the decision as part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports that the United States says funds destabilising activity throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that "only tough steps like this will force the ayatollahs in Iran to completely stop developing the risky nuclear program and support Hezbollah and the other terrorist organizations in the region".

The US along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied".

Kiernan said he expected the "Trump administration to try to rely on Saudi Arabia.to reverse policy and increase volumes to calm market fears of oil supplies quickly tightening".

As a result, Brent prices have risen by more than a third this year, while WTI has climbed more than 40 percent over the same period.

Analysts at JBC Energy in Vienna see a Saudi supply boost as likely.

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