The administration President Donald Trump has threatened to impose sanctions on Iran’s business partners if they do not cut their oil imports from Iran to nothing by a November 4th deadline. This move comes over two months after President Trump announced he would be pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was established to ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapon development program would end by lifting sanctions on the country. These actions are aimed at isolating Tehran further, in both political and economical spheres.
A White House senior State Department official described cracking down on Tehran as “one of our top national security priorities.” The official recommended that countries who are important buyers of large sums of Iranian oil should stop purchasing it from Iran before the November deadline, or U.S. sanctions would be placed on them. One of these countries, India, has already asked for refiners to prepare for a “drastic reduction or zero” of Iranian oil imports. These actions come because India, the second biggest buyer of Iranian oil, wants to protect itself from U.S. imposed sanctions.
In response to the U.S.’s attempt at blocking Iran’s oil exports, Iran has declared that it will allow private companies to export crude oil. “We will surely do something to thwart the US rallying cry that Iranian oil [exports] must be stemmed,” First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said in a recent speech. “The [Iranian] government has a plan… and God willing we are certain that we will be able to sell as much oil as we want,” he added.
According to President Trump, King Salman of Saudi Arabia agreed to his request of upping oil production, “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels,” to make up for the losses in production in Iran.
At the idea of Saudi Arabia taking Tehran’s place on the international oil market, Iran defensively warned that it would never happen. Iran and Saudi Arabia are locked in several proxy wars in the Middle East after breaking off diplomatic relations in 2016. “In this battle, any country that tries to take Iran’s place on the oil market will be guilty of treason against Iran… and surely one day it will pay the price of this treason,” Jahangiri said.
These newest U.S. threats come after concern arose following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal. The deal is still alive with five other countries remaining, but there is concern that without U.S. involvement, Iran will not think it is worth it any more and will again head towards building a nuclear weapon. If the deal does indeed fall apart, President Trump will have to decide between letting Iran advance towards a nuclear bomb or possibly going to war to try to stop it.