- Pompeo said, "The time to limit Iran's ability to foment terrorist acts is narrowing."
- It is unlikely that the Security Council will act against Iran in response to US demands.
- President Trump said, "Iran wants to negotiate. They just don't know what to do. They are proud people."
Mike Pompeo has claimed that the White House sanctions on Iran’s oil exports have prevented the sale of 2.8 million barrels of oil. Iran claims to be able to sell its oil. The US secretary of state, speaking in an interview with MSNBC, said he was confident that the White House could continue its strategy. Pompeo made reference to the “Iran zero oil export” strategy that Donald Trump’s government has adopted since May. Mr. Pompeo has called on the United Nations Security Council to extend Iran’s arms embargo, which expires next year.
He warned about the expiration of clauses in Security Council Resolution 5, which had been approved as part of the nuclear deal, including the end of the travel ban on Qasem Soleimani, Iranian Major General for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). If the resolution expires, sanctions will be lifted against four other Iranian citizens.
Pompeo said, “The time to limit Iran’s ability to foment terrorist acts is narrowing. He also said that since the US announced its intention to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero, its leader has “launched a full-fledged campaign based on extortion diplomacy.”
He cited, for example, a missile test by Iran and the capture of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. However, it is unlikely that the Security Council will act against Iran in response to US demands. European powers are still working with Russia and China, which have veto power in the council and are likely to block any action against Iran.
“We believe the UN Security Council has an important role to play in ensuring arms sanctions and travel bans,” Brian Hook, the US special envoy for Iranian affairs, told reporters ahead of Pompeo’s remarks in New York.
President Trump resumed nuclear sanctions against Iran after the US government unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal between the six world powers and Iran. However, many oil importing countries received a six-month waiver last year to seek alternative energy sources as they continued to buy oil from Iran.
On that basis, Washington announced in May this year that it would allow “zero” oil exports, in addition to cutting off Tehran’s financial resources, in light of Iran’s opposition to re-negotiating with the United States. A strategy that, despite its significant impact on Iran’s oil exports, has yet to convince it to engage in direct talks with the White House. Pompeo insisted that Iran is seeking talks with the US.
Mr. Trump said yesterday, in response to a question about the release of an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar, without mentioning the ship: “Iran wants to negotiate. They just don’t know what to do. They are proud people … Economically Iran is falling. Inflation is high. Their situation is bad. They are not selling oil. We have been sanctioned and they are selling less oil.”
At the same time, numerous reports have emerged over the past few months that indicate Iran’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and export its oil under other headlines. Two weeks ago, the information provided by an oil tanker tracking company indicated that China was continuing to buy oil from Iran.
Institutions tracking oil tankers say Iran is still trying to sell its oil to buyers using unusual methods. So far, China has been designated as the main buyer of Iranian oil during the sanctions, and it is still unclear whether India and Turkey have bought oil from Iran since the end of the US exemptions.
Iran’s oil exports have been declining since November when US sanctions came back. In May of this year, after the United States announced that it would no longer extend its oil purchase exemption from Iran, Iran’s monthly export volume declined even further, until Kepler Petroleum Tracking Company announced in July that Iran would export only about 5,000 barrels. Iran has its own tankers, many of which are left without buyers. Statistics show that Iran’s monthly oil sales have fallen by nearly 2 percent compared to the same month last year.