South Korea is the first of Iran’s top-three oil customers to cut their imports to zero ahead of November, in line with US demands.
In August, the Asian nation and close-US ally didn’t import any crude oil from Iran, according to tanker-tracking and shipping data compiled by Bloomberg, compared with 194,000 barrels a day in July.
While China and India, the other two top Iranian oil consumers, have significantly cut their oil purchases, South Korea has gone even further and completely halted its purchases of Iranian crude ahead of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry that will come into place on November 4.
The Trump administration promised that these sanctions were coming back in May, when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for supposed restrictions on the country’s nuclear programme.
South Korea’s official stance on the US’s Iranian sanctions is that it is in talks for a sanctions waiver, but, while the US has softened its stance slightly, there is no indication that they will be allowing exemptions come November.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said: “We will consider waivers where appropriate, [but] it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed.”
He said that he would be happy for US crude oil to fill the gap in supply, but a switch like that may not be simple as US and Middle Eastern crude is very different. That is why the US has been encouraging other countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia, to increase their production.
It is likely that South Korea has agreed to the US terms because of America’s role in the Korean peace agreement.
WengInn Chin, a senior oil market analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore, said: “South Korea will comply with the US sanctions on Iran for the multitude of reasons — national security, trade to name a few. Companies will not want to risk any actions by the US for breaching the sanctions. South Korean refiners will have to replace the volumes.”
More countries should follow South Korea’s lead and end their reliance on Iranian oil, rather than trying to find a way to work around the sanctions. This is not only better for the countries and companies that benefit from the US financial system, but also better for the people of Iran, as much of the Regime’s wealth is derived from the oil industry and it does not trickle down to the Iranian people.
Source » ncr-iran