Tag Archives: Iran Sanctions

Trump Bullying Will Hurt Millions of Iranians, by Medea Benjamin

The odds of Iranian sanctions leading to the hoped-for overthrow of the Iranian government are low. However, they will hurt millions of Iranians. From Medea Benjamin at antiwar.com:

Treating the welfare of the Iranians people like a TV show, Donald Trump used a meme from The Game of Thrones – an arrogant, stylized photo of himself with the tagline: “Sanctions Are Coming November 5” – to announce the new round of crippling sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, banks and shipping.

Iranian government officials want to know how the Trump administration can get away with punishing Iran and other countries for complying with the internationally recognized nuclear deal signed in 2015. “The US is, in effect, threatening states who seek to abide by Resolution 2231 with punitive measures,” said President Rouhani. “This constitutes a mockery of international decisions and the blackmailing of responsible parties who seek to uphold them.”

Treating the welfare of the Iranians people like a TV show, Donald Trump used a meme from The Game of Thrones – an arrogant, stylized photo of himself with the tagline: “Sanctions Are Coming November 5” – to announce the new round of crippling sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, banks and shipping.

This is the second round of sanctions since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, a deal that was signed in 2015 not only by the US and Iran, but also by Germany, England, France, Russia and China – and approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. It’s also a deal that has been working. Iran has been complying with the most intrusive inspections regime ever devised, as the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed 13 times.

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Chaos Reigns in Trump Administration over Iranian Sanctions, by Thomas Luongo

Iran’s position is stronger than it was in 2012 when Obama imposed sanctions. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:

Sanctions may indeed be coming but will they have the bite that Donald Trump is hoping for? It’s a good question as we open November with a flurry of edicts from Trump’s State and Treasury Departments.

Let’s go over them all and see just how contradictory they are while at the same time acceding to the reality of just how much the world has changed in the six years since President Obama first went nuclear on Iran with sanctions.

It starts with Trump’s tweet that “Sanctions are Coming.” Okay, fine we knew this. But sanctions don’t account for much if the State Department is handing out 180 day waivers to countries.

Next up was Pompeo saying on the same day that no less than eight countries would be exempt from sanctions for buying oil from Iran.

A little news for Mike Pompeo, Halloween was last week.

Contrast this with 2012 where India, for example, to get around the sanctions had to essentially barter to get much needed Iranian oil, because no such exemption was forthcoming.

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European Firms Hit Hard By U.S. Sanctions On Iran, by Scott Belinksi

If sanctions against Iran jolt oil prices higher, Europe will suffer. From Scott Belinski at oilprice.com:

As Iran is turning to the UN’s International Court of Justice to have the US-imposed sanctions against its oil suspended, the EU is preparing for the hit its economies will have to absorb once the full weight of Washington’s punitive measures comes into effect in the fourth quarter of this year. With these latest moves, American intentions are clear: cut off Iranian oil from the market entirely and reduce Tehran’s financial power. As oil prices rise, however, the White House’s policy looks set to hurt more countries than just Iran. Will Europe’s economies take the hit – or will they fight back?

Iran is the world’s third largest oil producer within OPEC (after Saudi Arabia and Iraq) with a daily production of 4 million barrels. Currently, major economic regions from North America to Europe and East Asia are witnessing growing economic activity, causing global oil consumption in 2017 to rise by 1.5 million barrels per day, further tightening the market. As Tehran has already warned, OPEC capacity will be unable to meet shortfalls if the US pursues its policy of reducing Iranian oil exports to zero.

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Why Trump’s Iran Isolation Plan May Backfire, by Ron Paul

Here is another take on Iran’s situation. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

In May, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal despite Iran living up to its obligations and the deal working as planned. While the US kept in place most sanctions against Tehran, China and Russia – along with many European countries – had begun reaping the benefits of trade with an Iran eager to do business with the world.

Now, President Trump is threatening sanctions against any country that continues to do business with Iran. But will his attempt to restore the status quo before the Iran deal really work?

Even if the Europeans cave in to US demands, the world has changed a great deal since the pre-Iran deal era.

President Trump is finding that his threats and heated rhetoric do not always have the effect he wishes. As his Administration warns countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November or risk punishment by the United States, a nervous international oil market is pushing prices ever higher, threatening the economic prosperity he claims credit for. President Trump’s response has been to demand that OPEC boost its oil production by two million barrels per day to calm markets and bring prices down.

Perhaps no one told him that Iran was a founding member of OPEC?

When President Trump Tweeted last week that Saudi Arabia agreed to begin pumping additional oil to make up for the removal of Iran from the international markets, the Saudis very quickly corrected him, saying that while they could increase capacity if needed, no promise to do so had been made.

The truth is, if the rest of the world followed Trump’s demands and returned to sanctions and boycotting Iranian oil, some 2.7 million barrels per day currently supplied by Iran would be very difficult to make up elsewhere. Venezuela, which has enormous reserves but is also suffering under, among other problems, crippling US sanctions, is shrinking out of the world oil market.

Iraq has not recovered its oil production capacity since its “liberation” by the US in 2003 and the al-Qaeda and ISIS insurgencies that followed it.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that “a complete shutdown of Iranian sales could push oil prices above $120 a barrel if Saudi Arabia can’t keep up.” Would that crash the US economy? Perhaps. Is Trump willing to risk it?

To continue reading: Why Trump’s Iran Isolation Plan May Backfire

How Bad Is Iran’s Oil Situation? by Nick Cunningham

Trump may be able to meaningfully curtail Iran’s oil exports. From Nick Cunningham at oilprice.com via wolfstreet.com:

“There’s a really big gap between what foreign governments are saying and what companies are saying.”

The U.S. government has continued its attempts to shut down Iran’s oil exports, and in recent days Iranian officials responded by threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. Such an outcome is highly unlikely, but the war of words demonstrates how quickly the confrontation is escalating.

Oil prices spiked in late June when a U.S. State Department official said that countries would be expected to cut their imports of oil from Iran down to “zero.” The official also suggested that it would be unlikely that the Trump administration would grant any waivers.

This hard line stance fueled a rally in oil prices as the oil market was quickly forced to recalibrate expected losses from Iran, with a general consensus changing from a loss of around 500,000 bpd by the end of the year, to something more like 1 million barrels per day (mb/d), or even as high as 2.0 to 2.5 mb/d in a worst-case scenario in which all countries comply.

A loss of that magnitude would be hard to offset, even if Saudi Arabia decides to burn through all of its spare capacity.

That led to a dialing back of the rhetoric from the Trump administration, or so it seemed. A follow-up statement from the State Department suggested that the U.S. government would work with countries on a “case-by-case basis” to lower Iranian oil imports. High oil prices seemed to put pressure on Washington.

But for now, there is no policy shift. “I think there’s going to be very few waivers. That’s what we’re hearing all the time from officials across the administration. I think it’s a very strong policy decision,” Brenda Shaffer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, told Oilprice.com.

Time will tell, but early evidence suggests that the Trump administration is having success convincing top buyers of Iranian crude to curtail their purchases.

South Korea reportedly plans on zeroing out its imports of oil from Iran in August, according to Reuters. Sources told Reuters that Japan plans on buying oil from Iran for the next few months, but will likely come under pressure to cut imports as the November deadline approaches.

To continue reading: How Bad Is Iran’s Oil Situation?

 

Who Needs Enemies? by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Will the Europeans go along with Iran sanctions or not? From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Obviously, there are tensions between Europe and the US. Just as obviously, these tensions are blamed on, who else, Donald Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk recently said: “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” EU Commission chair Jean-Claude Juncker even proclaimed that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader”.

These European ‘leaders’ love the big words. They think they make them look good, strong. In reality, they are merely messenger boys for Berlin and Paris. Who have infinitely more say than Brussels. Problem is, Berlin and Paris are not united at all. Macron wants more Europe, especially in finance, but Merkel knows she can’t sell that at home.

So what are those big words worth when the whip comes down? It’s amusing to see how different people reach wholly different conclusions about that. Instructive and entertaining. First, Alex Gorka at The Strategic Culture Foundation, who likes the big words too: “..a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US.”and “May 17 is the day the revolt started and there is no going back. Europe has said goodbye to trans-Atlantic unity. It looks like it has had enough.

 

Brussels Rises In Revolt Against Washington: A Turning Point In US-European Relations

The May 16-17 EU-Western Balkans summit did address the problems of integration, but it was eclipsed by another issue. The meeting turned out to be a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US. The EU will neither review the Iran nuclear deal (JPCOA) nor join the sanctions against Tehran that have been reintroduced and even intensified by America.

Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JPCOA was the last straw, forcing the collapse of Western unity. The Europeans found themselves up against a wall. There is no point in discussing further integration or any other matter if the EU cannot protect its own members. But now it can.

[..] As European Council President Donald Tusk put it, “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” According to him, the US president has “rid Europe of all illusions.” Mr. Tusk wants Europe to “stick to our guns” against new US policies. Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EU Commission, believes that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader” because Washington has turned its back on its allies.

To continue reading: Who Needs Enemies?

Windbag Jean-Claude Juncker’s Pathetic Bluff Regarding Iran Sanctions, by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Is Jean-Claude Junker’s threat to invoke a “blocking” statute to keep European companies from complying with US sanctions with Iran may be just hot air. From Mike “Mish” Shedlock at themaven.com:

EC president Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU will activate a ‘blocking statute’ to avoid Iran sanctions.

“As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 1030,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

“We also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation will Iran,” Juncker told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders.

Solidarity Busted Already

French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out on Thursday any trade war with the United States over its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal as a wave of European companies quit business with Tehran, fearing the global reach of U.S. sanctions.

Macron acknowledged the predicament of firms wanting to trade with Iran or invest there, especially multinationals with close business ties to the United States. But he made clear bigger matters were at stake.

“We won’t start a strategic trade war against the U.S. about Iran,” he said on arriving for a second day of a European Union summit in Bulgaria. “We’re not going to take counter-sanctions against U.S. companies, it wouldn’t make sense.”

All European Union member states are still backing this agreement, despite the fact the United States has decided not to, and we will continue talks with the United States,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters at the EU summit.