The Trump administration will enact a zero tolerance policy with regard to exports of Iranian crude oil, a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday, stressing that the USA plans to pressure all buyers to completely cut any imports or face sanctions.
"Yes, we are asking them to go to zero", the official said when asked if the United States was pushing allies, including China and India, to cut oil imports to zero by November. The Trump administration is not planning to issue waivers that would allow allies to continue importing oil from Iran, according to the State Department official.
In the face of the public show of discontent, officials sought to reassure Iranians while President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the demonstrations as "foreign media propaganda", and accused the U.S. of waging a "psychological, economic and political war" on Iran.
Mehrdad Emadi, an Iranian economist who heads energy risk analysis at London's Betamatrix consultancy, said the sanctions threat was strengthening interests in the Iranian government that favored tighter state control of the economy.
As such, this could emerge as a major topic of discussion between India and the United States during the first 2+2 dialogue next week.
Asked if any waivers were expected to be granted in the process, the official said the position of the administration was that no exemptions would be permitted.
However, the request that countries cut their purchases to "zero" by 4 November without exception came as a surprise.
Another source said that India's Central Bank is yet to make a final decision on returning to the rupee payments for Iranian oil.
A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018.
The pullout has caused global companies, such French oil giant Total, to end its business deals in Iran over fear of being targeted by US sanctions. "I don't want to get into the substance of each discussion I've had, but, for a vast majority of countries, they are willing to adhere and support our approach to this because they also view it as a threat".
The Iranian government is implementing new plans to control rising prices, including banning imports of over 1,300 products, preparing its economy to resist threatened US sanctions.
Liberman's tweets added fuel to the fire as rare economic demonstrations in Iran sparked Monday by the collapse of the rial on the foreign exchange market continued for a second day on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, Mohammad Shariatmadari, Iran's Industries and trade minister, slapped the import ban on 1,339 goods from overseas, including home appliances, textile products, footwear, leather products, furniture, and healthcare products.
"There is a level of frustration that people have with regard to the regime activity and behavior, the enrichment of the military and clerical elite and the squeezing out of the life of the economy", the senior State Department official said.
"Today, despite the financial difficulties at home, the Iranian regime is pouring billions of dollars into Syria, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq", the posts said, adding that Tehran has to date invested $14 billion in Syria alone.