U.S. considers oil sanction waivers as new Iran penalties start

By Margaret Talev on 8/6/2018

WASHINGTON D.C. (Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration will consider partial exemptions from oil sanctions against Iran for some countries as a first wave of non-oil penalties against the Islamic Republic snap back into effect on Tuesday, U.S. officials said.

President Donald Trump is still willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at any time, without preconditions, as the U.S. ramps up economic pressure on Tehran after Trump quit the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran, the officials told reporters on Monday. The Iranian rial has slumped to record lows as the economy faces an escalating crisis. Iran’s central bank scrapped most currency controls introduced this year in a bid to halt the currency’s plunge.

In measures that were announced soon after Trump’s move, the U.S. will ban purchases of dollar banknotes by Iran, prevent the government from trading gold and other precious metals and block the nation from selling or acquiring various industrial metals. The measures also target the auto industry, and will ban imports of Persian carpets and pistachios to the U.S.

The U.S. is weighing case-by-case exemptions for some countries from the next set of sanctions -- which take effect in 90 days -- targeting Iranian oil exports, the officials said. The administration had previously signaled that countries that don’t eliminate their imports of Iranian oil need to show “significant” reductions in those purchases to qualify for temporary waivers.

The U.S. goal is to get the Iranian regime to stop meddling in countries from Syria to Yemen, halt its ballistic missile program and commit to stricter limits on its nuclear program, not to overthrow the government, the administration officials said.

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