The Path to Renewed Oil Sanctions on Iran

(Foreign Affairs) Peter Harrell - On Nov. 5, U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil exports will be reinstated. Iran took in an estimated $50 billion from the sale of oil in fiscal year 2017 and oil and petroleum products made up 70% of Iran's total exports. With the value of Iran's currency already falling 50% since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA, cutting off Tehran's biggest source of cash has the potential to dramatically hit Iran's already ailing government. Taking Iran's 2 million barrels of oil per day off the markets too quickly could have dramatic impacts on global oil prices. Instead of forcing countries to immediately eliminate oil imports from Iran, the president can offer countries an exception to continue importing Iranian crude, as long as the countries "significantly" reduce their volumes of Iranian oil imports every six months. Many energy analysts expect additional oil supplies to come online in late 2018 and the first half of 2019, driven by increasing production in Brazil, Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere. China imports approximately 500,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude, or about a quarter of Iran's exports. If Chinese officials decide that cutting imports of Iranian crude offers a low-cost concession to Trump that would win reciprocal U.S. concessions on trade or on regional issues in Asia, China will tell Tehran that it wants to buy less oil. The writer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions in the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

2018-08-09 00:00:00

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