Sanctions can take effect if Iran disagrees with a nuclear deal, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal.
The United States is weighing new sanctions on Iran’s oil sales to China as a way to pressure Tehran to commit to a nuclear deal, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Monday.
US negotiators continue to work with European and international partners in Vienna, Austria, in an attempt to reactivate the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), the 2015 agreement that halts Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some of Tehran’s sanctions.
But as those negotiations stall, the United States is exploring alternative options to encourage Iran to stay on the negotiating table or increase the cost of leaving it, U.S. officials and people told the WSJ. familiar with the matter.
One option to consider would be to reduce Iran’s growing crude oil sales to China, the newspaper reported.
“There is not much left to sanction the Iranian economy,” a U.S. official told the WSJ. “Iran’s oil sales to China are the prize.”
Beijing is Tehran’s main oil customer. In the plan under consideration, the United States would target Iran’s oil sales to China by targeting maritime networks that help export about a million barrels a day, officials said in a statement. WSJ.
But the new plan would only come into effect if nuclear talks failed, those officials said.
According to the WSJ, the United States would aggressively apply the current sanctions that already prohibited deals with Iran’s maritime and oil sectors through strong enforcement and legal action.
With growing concern that the effort could have unintended consequences and may even encourage Iran to accelerate its nuclear program, other options considered include a diplomatic campaign to convince China, India and other big ones. Crude oil buyers to reduce raw material imports, oil operations, debt financing and financial transfers, another official told the WSJ.
Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, who will be inaugurated next month, has said Tehran will not accept the nuclear deal without first lifting US sanctions.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi addressed the issue on Saturday in a series of tweets.
The United States and the United Kingdom must understand this and stop linking a humanitarian exchange — ready to implement it — with the JCPOA.
Keeping this exchange hostage to political goals fails either.
TWO PRISONERS on all sides can be released TOMORROW if the US and the UK fulfill their part of the agreement. 2/2
– Seyed Abbas Araghchi (@araghchi) July 17, 2021
“We are in a period of transition, as a democratic transfer of power to our capital is taking place,” he tweeted. “The talks in Vienna must therefore await our new administration. That is what every democracy demands. “
His second tweet referred to the 2015 JCPOA.
“The United States and the United Kingdom must understand this and stop linking a humanitarian exchange – ready to implement it – with the JCPOA. Maintaining this exchange as a hostage to political goals fails either. TWO PRISONERS on all sides can be released TOMORROW if the US and the UK fulfill their part of the agreement, “Araghchi added.
The then President of the United States, Donald Trump, came out of the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, criticizing that he was too lenient with Tehran. Trump again imposed widespread sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to sign a new nuclear and security deal.
Under current U.S. President Joe Biden, Iran’s crude exports, mainly to China, have increased.
U.S. Republicans and other critics of Biden’s Iranian policy have said his clemency and non-compliance with sanctions have only encouraged Tehran.
The Biden administration has recently announced the blacklist of Iranians for alleged violations of sanctions on the oil trade.