WASHINGTON - The United States on Monday ended its sanctions waivers for five countries importing Iranian oil, hoping to put new pressure on Tehran to curb its military aggression in the Mideast by cutting off its main source of national revenue.
The White House announced that President Donald Trump had decided to end the waivers for three allies, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, as well as China and India. Three other countries Italy, Greece and Taiwan had already acceded to U.S. demands to end their purchases of Iranian oil.
The U.S. said it, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates 'have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market,' presumably by increasing their oil production.
The White House said the 'decision is intended to bring Iranian oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.'
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to reporters about the end to the sanctions waivers shortly after the White House announcement.
Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran last year after he abandoned the 2015 international agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for it limiting its nuclear activity.
The sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to change what the administration calls Iran's 'malign activities,' including its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The United States issued eight waivers when it brought back the sanctions in November, temporarily exempting most of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil. Those included China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
Since the sanctions were reintroduced, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have halted their Iranian oil imports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Monday that China opposes U.S. imposition of 'unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction,' and that China's business with Iranian companies is transparent and legal.
While the United States has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and the other signatories Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany have said they remain committed to carrying out the agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is in charge of monitoring Iran's compliance with terms such as limiting the number of centrifuges in operation at its nuclear facilities and abiding by caps on its stock of enriched uranium, and in multiple reports the IAEA says Iran is abiding by the deal.