As US starts oil sanctions against Iran, major buyers get waivers

US motorists will not welcome any price rise at the pump

All the US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal were restored by the United States on Friday and came into force on Monday.

"The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, or it can see its economy crumble", U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

The country denounced it as an economic war in which the United States attempted to curb Tehran's missile and nuclear programmes and weaken its influence in the Middle East.

Trump announced in May his government was withdrawing from what he called the "worst ever" agreement negotiated by the United States. These are Iran's biggest buyers, meaning Iran will be allowed to still export some oil for now.

In May, Trump officially withdrew the USA from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and ordered the new round of sanctions on Iran.

"The US has said they want to cut Iran's oil sale to zero, but we said you can't and they have not succeeded". USA light crude was 15 cents lower at $62.99.

The designated targets include 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries, over 200 persons and vessels in Iran's shipping and energy sectors, one Iranian airline and more than 65 of its aircraft, according to the statement.

In an interview with Press TV, political columnist David William Pear said that the United States sanctions are "really putting such hardships on the Iranian people and it is totally unnecessary".

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South Korean refiners have reduced their oil imports from Iran since the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear deal with Iran, in May.

Iran on Monday strongly opposed US sanctions on its pillar industries, saying that the United States will not be able to stop Iran's oil exports.

The sanctions cover Iran's banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports. Exempted countries are top Iranian oil importers China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Japan, as well as occasional oil customer Taiwan.

Seoul was also granted an exemption to continue financial transactions with Iran's central bank, allowing South Korea to continue trading oil as well as nonsanctioned items with Iran, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.

European powers that back the nuclear deal opposed the reimposition of sanctions.

"On the face of it, we have been given about six-seven months respite to continue importing the Iranian oil". Other parties to the deal, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation, have said they will not leave the deal.

Brian Hook, the USA special representative for Iran, told CBS News, "We don't expect to start seeing these effects come into effect until later". The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) boosted oil production in October to its highest level since 2016, led by UAE and Libya.

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