Mnuchin says US will consider Iran oil sanctions waivers: report

Anna Moneymaker

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly said the Trump administration would consider temporarily exempting some countries from imposed sanctions on Iranian oil imports.

Mnuchin told reporters in Mexico on Friday that the administration would consider granting sanctions waivers to countries struggling to wind down imports of Iranian oil before the penalties take effect on Nov. 4, according to Reuters

“We want people to reduce oil purchases to zero, but in certain cases if people can’t do that overnight, we’ll consider exceptions,” Mnuchin said the news service reported.

The comments were held until Monday morning for release.{mosads}

The Trump administration has begun the process of imposing economic sanctions on Iran that were suspended under the 2015 Iran nuclear weapons agreement signed by former President Obama. The agreement, which is not a formal treaty ratified by Congress, gave Iran relief from economic sanctions for scaling back its nuclear weapons capabilities.

President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in May and instructed the Treasury Department to reimpose sanctions that were lifted under the pact, including a ban on Iranian oil imports.

Those sanctions would block doing business with Iran’s energy, financial, shipping, insurance and auto industries, bar aircraft companies from selling commercial planes to Iran and drastically limit other imports from the country.

Countries and companies that flout those sanctions could be banned from doing business and making financial transactions with U.S. citizens or firms.

U.S. officials initially said that the Trump administration would not grant any sanctions waivers, but top Trump Cabinet members, including Mnuchin, have loosened that stance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the U.S. would consider sanctions waivers on Iranian oil imports a month after a senior State Department official ruled it out.

Sanctions on Iranian exports are expected to put upward pressure on oil costs, leading to higher gas and fuel prices in the U.S. Mnuchin also said Friday that Trump administration did not want to roil global oil markets, where prices have steadily risen after a year at relatively low levels.

Mnuchin said that the U.S. wouldn’t issue blanket waivers, but would be flexible in cases where imposing sanctions could do major economic damage.

“We want to be very careful in the wind-down around the energy markets to make sure that people have the time,” Mnuchin said, according to Reuters.

Oil prices fell soon after Mnuchin’s comments were published.

Democrats are aiming to use rising gas prices to turn economically vulnerable voters against Trump and Republican lawmakers. Trump himself has sought to push oil prices downward ahead of the election as the GOP defends its congressional majority.

Trump has asked OPEC to boost production, and has reportedly considered tapping the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pompeo Steven Mnuchin
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