U.S. Intensifies Pressure Against Iran, Targets Oil Tanker Network

By Irina Slav

Rouhani

The United States stepped up its pressure on Iran by announcing yet more sanctions plus a US$15-million plan aimed at disrupting the operations of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

CNN quoted Washington’s special envoy for Iran Brian Hook as saying Washington was “going to intensify our maximum pressure campaign because Iran, we need to deny it the revenue it needs to fund its foreign policy. It’s also the principle means by which you bring Iran back to the negotiating table.”

Hook went on to say “Iran never comes back to the negotiating table without diplomatic isolation, economic pressure or the threat of military force, that’s just been the history of it, so we will continue as we have today. We think that this creates the right atmosphere that will lead eventually to talks, but that’s a decision that the Iranians have to make.”

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The new sanctions, targeting an oil tanker network involving 11 vessels, 16 entities, and 10 individuals, according to Xinhua, aim to further squeeze Iran’s international oil shipments. The new penalties come days after Tehran said it will not return to the negotiating table unless it was allowed to export crude.

As French President Emmanuel Macron leads an effort to relieve the pressure on Iran, the signal from the U.S. could not be clearer and both Hook and President Trump have said as much.

“We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers,” Hook told media in response to questions regarding the planned US$15-billion credit line France was ready to offer Iran in exchange for oil shipments.

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The sanctions and the statements of Hook and Trump come on the heels of Iran’s President saying Iran would only return to the negotiating table after all sanctions are lifted.

“We’ve said it before time and again, and we say it again: We have no intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States. We never did and never will. It has been the case in the past year and a half, and even in previous years. There have been calls for talks, but we never responded to them,” Hassan Rouhani told the Iranian Parliament on Wednesday.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com