20.07.2021 – 12:44
The United States is weighing new sanctions on Iranian oil sales to China as a way to pressure Tehran to engage in a nuclear deal, well-known sources told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
US negotiators continue to work with European and international partners in Vienna, Austria in a bid to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 agreement halting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting some sanctions. faces Tehran.
But as those negotiations stall, the U.S. is considering alternative options to encourage Iran to stay at the negotiating table or increase the cost of leaving it, U.S. officials and people familiar with the WSJ said.
An option under consideration would reduce Iran’s growing crude sales to China, the newspaper reported.
“There is not much to sanction in Iran’s economy”, said a US official for the WSJ. “Iran’s oil sales to China are the price.”
Beijing is the main oil customer in Tehran. In the plan under consideration, the U.S. would target Iranian oil sales to China by targeting transportation networks that help export an estimated one million barrels a day, officials told the WSJ.
But the new plan would only take effect if nuclear talks fail, officials said.
The United States would aggressively enforce current sanctions that already bar relations with Iran’s oil and transportation sectors through strong enforcement and legal action, according to the WSJ.
With growing concerns that the effort could have unintended consequences and may even encourage Iran to speed up its nuclear program, other options under consideration include a diplomatic campaign to persuade China, India and other major buyers of crude oil. to reduce commodity imports, non-oil trade, debt financing and financial transfers, another official told the WSJ.
Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, who will be inaugurated next month, has said that Tehran will not agree to the nuclear deal without first lifting US sanctions.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi addressed the issue in a series of tweets on Saturday.
“We are in a period of transition as a democratic transfer of power is taking place in our capital.” he wrote on Twitter. “The Vienna talks should definitely wait for our new administration. That is what every democracy wants. “
His second message referred to JCPOA 2015.
“The United States and the United Kingdom must understand this and stop linking a humanitarian exchange, ready to be implemented, with the JCPOA. Holding such an exchange hostage for political purposes achieves neither. “TEN PRISONERS on all sides can be released if the US and UK fulfill their part of the agreement.” added Araghchi.
Then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, criticizing it as too lenient towards Tehran. Trump then re-imposed widespread sanctions aimed at putting pressure on Iran to sign a new nuclear and security agreement.
Under current US President Joe Biden, Iran’s crude oil exports, mainly to China, have risen.
U.S. Republicans and other critics of Biden’s policy on Iran have said his leniency and lack of sanctions has only emboldened Tehran.
The Biden administration has recently blacklisted Iranians for alleged violations of oil trade sanctions.
Translated and adapted for Konica.al by AlJazeera