The United States announced Monday it would end waivers for sanctions on countries importing oil from Iran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement as part of Washington’s "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran to force countries to cease getting oil from Tehran.
Pompeo said the U.S. plans to force Iran to get to "zero across the board," in terms of Iranian oil exports.
He noted before Washington imposed sanctions, Iran received around $50 billion in revenue from oil sales annually. Now that the sanctions have been applied, $10 billion in sales were diminished, according to Pompeo.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in November after the president pulled out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington, and five other countries.
The administration then announced it would give 180-day waivers, called Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs), to eight countries to help them wean off their supply of Iranian oil, including China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.
"We have used the highest possible care in our decision to ensure market stability," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.
He said SRE waivers will end May 2, a year after Trump unilaterally left the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Earlier this month, Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative to Iran, said three out of the eight countries that received waivers have already reduced their imports of Iranian oil to zero, according to the Japanese Kyodo News agency.
The waivers announcement follows the U.S. decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a "foreign terrorist organization".
To make sure the global oil market is well supplied, the U.S. said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have committed to meet supply.
"Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil. Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal," Trump tweeted.
"We have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market," the White House said in a statement.
By Umar Farooq in Washington