In what can only be described as another diplomatic victory for President Donald Trump’s administration, European countries have stopped importing Iranian oil. The Iranian regime has admitted that European buyers have refused to touch Iranian oil despite temporary waivers extended to them by the United States.

“No European country is buying oil from Iran except Turkey,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said.

The Iranian minister specifically criticized Greece and Italy, complaining that they even refuse to answer Iran’s queries with regards to future oil imports. Athens and Rome have received six-month waivers from U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil imports. These waivers, scheduled to expire in May, are meant to give energy importers more time to find alternative suppliers. “Iran’s oil customers should not expect new waivers to U.S. sanctions in May”, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said Thursday.

The Radio Free Europe reported the Iranian oil minister’s statement:

Iran has criticized Greece and Italy for not buying its oil despite U.S. waivers, and said they had not offered Tehran any explanation.

“No European country is buying oil from Iran except Turkey,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying on February 5.

Zanganeh added that Greece and Italy “don’t buy Iranian oil and they don’t answer our questions.”

“We have called them many times, but they do not return our calls,” the minister also said, according to the Fars news agency.

The United States granted the two EU member states and six other countries – Turkey, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – temporary waivers to import Iranian oil when the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in November.”

Despite rebukes from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders, and stiff opposition from Democrats at home, Trump pulled out from the Obama-era nuclear deal last May. In November 2018, Washington introduced stiffer economic sanctions on Iran’s oil, shipping, and banking sectors, hampering the government’s ability to build up its nuclear arsenal and finance terrorism across the Middle East.

Trump’s strategy of isolating and weakening the Iranian regime has been very effective so far. The termination of the nuclear deal ended the financial windfall for Iran, which triggered the biggest economic crisis since the Islamic regime grabbed power in 1979. This has fueled a wave of anti-regime protests across the country, including in the capital of Tehran.

“My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran,” President Trump said in his recent State of the Union address. “To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”

The news comes as the European Union is busy unveiling a special-purpose vehicle (SPV), a non-dollar trading mechanism, to circumvent U.S. sanctions. Chaired by a German banker, the trading mechanism seeks to buy Iranian oil in exchange for European goods, thereby shielding European companies from violating U.S. secondary sanctions and leaving behind no money trail.

While Germany’s Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron continue to vow to “uphold” President Obama’s legacy on Iran, German and French companies have all but left the country. With European investors on their way out and the EU countries refusing to buy Iranian oil, the SPV is teetering on the edge of collapse before it can even get off the ground. With Brussels devising shady schemes to bankroll the faltering regime, it is heartening to see EU member states refusing to touch Iranian oil shipments even with a barge pole.

[Cover image via YouTube]


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