U.S. Warns Iranian Oil Tankers May Be Courting 'Environmental Disaster'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

On Monday, the U.S. imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on Tehran aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour".

The United States on Wednesday warned all ports and insurance companies to steer clear of Iranian ships, which it called a "floating liability" after the imposition of sweeping USA sanctions.

The foreign minister further stated that while previous US Presidents have also displayed "disrespectful attitudes" towards Iran, they have eventually changed their stance, and said the Trump administration will have to do the same. "There are many moving variables until the OPEC meeting in December, like Iran and US production growth". Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, said Washington aimed to bring Iranian oil exports to zero, but 180-day exemptions were granted to eight importers: China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey. "We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero".

The spokesperson cited the strategy to say it "underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India".

Representatives of India, Afghanistan and Iran met a little more than two weeks ago in New Delhi, despite looming US sanctions, to discuss operationalization of the port, which is seen as key to connect India and Afghanistan to Iran and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

India had lobbied the United States privately and publicly for an exemption for the port citing the role it plays in Afghanistan's reconstruction. The port stands in contrast to China's own port project in Gwadar, Pakistan. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also pledged to offset any supply gaps.

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The top U.S. diplomat has granted an exception to certain USA sanctions that will allow the India-led development of a port in Iran as part of a new transportation corridor created to boost Afghanistan's economy, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.

When asked on the fate of Chabahar Port after the United States reimposed all its sanctions on Iran, the spokesperson said, "This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan". Plans to link the port to the Iranian rail system, which connects to Afghanistan and on to Central Asia, featured in the U.S. State Department's decision.

"The Iranian regime has a choice".

With this exception, however, business as usual will continue for now at Chabahar.

Saudi Arabia and other producers gathering in Abu Dhabi this weekend face a worrying prospect: Even though United States sanctions on Iran are removing significant amounts of crude from world markets, a fresh surge of American shale oil threatens to unleash a new surplus in 2019. Meanwhile the Trump administration's South Asia policy all but necessitates a pass for Afghanistan.

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