Washington: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he gave temporary exemptions to India and seven other major importers of Iranian oil as they sought US’ “help” and that he did not want to drive oil prices “up to $100 a barrel or $150 a barrel”.
The US on Monday imposed “the toughest ever” sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime’s “behaviour”. The sanctions cover Iran’s banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.
However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that eight countries — India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil as they showed “significant reduction” in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country.
“I gave some countries a break on the oil. I did it a little bit because they really asked for some help,” Mr Trump told reporters at a press conference in the White House on Wednesday.
He said that he also did it “because I don’t want to drive oil prices up to $100 a barrel or $150 a barrel.”
“I am driving them (oil prices) down. If you look at oil prices, they have come down very substantially over the last couple of months,” he asserted.
Mr Trump said the sanctions may “get tougher as time goes by”, but he does not want them to have any effect on the global oil prices worldwide as he “consider that to be a tax, and I don’t like taxes”.
Later at another press conference, the US state department said its goal is to go down to zero oil import from Iran and during the next six months, it will monitor the diplomatic progress.
“We have to ensure that we advance our national security objectives without injuring our economic interests. If we were to increase the price of oil, it would be bad for Ameri-can consumers, it would be bad for the global economy, and it would give an advantage to Iran,” Deputy State Department Spokesperson Robert Paladino said.