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Treasury Secretary: US to Mull Iran Waivers

Treasury Secretary: US to Mull Iran WaiversTreasury Secretary: US to Mull Iran Waivers

The United States in certain cases will consider waivers for countries that need more time to wind down imports of oil from Iran to avoid disrupting global oil markets while reimposing sanctions against Tehran, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“We want people to reduce oil purchases to zero, but in certain cases if people can’t do that overnight, we will consider exceptions,” Mnuchin told reporters on Friday, clarifying some US officials’ comments that there would be no exemptions.

Mnuchin’s comments were embargoed for release on Monday as other US officials were expected to begin talks in India this week on cutbacks in Iranian oil supplies, CNBC reported.

The treasury secretary spoke to reporters while en route from Mexico, where he was part of a high-level US delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Mexico’s next president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The Trump administration is pushing countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November, when sanctions come into force against Tehran.

Trump withdrew from the multinational 2015 Iran nuclear deal against the advice of allies in Europe and elsewhere.

A delegation from the US State Department and Treasury are expected for talks in Delhi this week to discuss Iran sanctions, according to Indian officials.

US crude oil exports to India hit a record in June, as Indian refiners moved to replace supplies from Iran and Venezuela.

Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said India was expected to ask the US to ensure adequate global oil supplies as Washington presses countries to cut back on Iran oil.

“That might include pressure to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which the administration indicated they were considering on Friday,” said Lipow.

“To put things in context, if we were to look at Iran in total, it is exporting roughly 2.2 million barrels a day of sales, of which half is going to both China and India. It is very important for the US to get India on board with the sanctions policy.”

Mnuchin said he would meet with counterparts from developed and developing countries during a G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this week. US sanctions against Iran are likely to be raised in his talks on the sidelines of the event.

“We have said very specifically, there is no blanket waivers, there’s no grandfathering,” he said. “We want to be very careful in the wind down around the energy markets to make sure that people have the time.” Mnuchin noted that the State Department has the ability to issue waivers around significant reductions in the oil markets, which Treasury and State will be doing.

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