Obama clears Iran oil sanctions (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Susan Crabtree 03/31/12)
WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
President Obama Friday signed off on tough new sanctions aimed at
hitting Iran’s oil exports, after determining there is enough crude
supplies in the world market that taking the step won’t harm U.S.
allies or drive gas prices even higher.
The president’s move gives him the ability to imposes sanctions on
foreign banks that continue to conduct business from Iran´s central
bank, cutting them off from the financial systems of the U.S. and its
allies. The U.S. and European Union have issued a string of sanctions
against Iran to isolate it from the world economy and pressure it to
stop developing its disputed nuclear program.
Countries involved in purchasing oil from Iran can still prevent the
sanctions if they significantly curtail their imports before the June
Speculation about an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities has
helped push up oil and gas prices, which have become one of the
biggest political problems for Mr. Obama’s re-election.
In clearing the way for the congressionally mandated sanctions, Mr.
Obama said made his decision after “carefully considering” a Feb. 29
Energy Information Agency report to Congress that analyzed the
world’s oil supply and the impact the sanctions would have. The
penalties are timed to take effect at the end of June, around the
same time Europe’s embargo on Iranian oil also begins.
Mr. Obama said he determined “that there is a sufficient supply of
petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a
significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum
products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial
institutions.” He also promised to monitor the situation closely to
assure that the market can continue to accommodate a reduction in
purchases of oil and oil products from Iran.
A White House spokesman said Mr. Obama gave the oil sanctions a green
light despite a worldwide oil market that has become increasingly
tight over the first two months of 2012 because of a series of
production disruptions in South Sudan, Syria, Yemen Nigeria and the
North Sea, as well as international concern over Iran’s nuclear
activities and recent steps taken to reduce the amount of Iranian
crude oil products worldwide.
“Nonetheless, there currently appears to be sufficient supply of non-
Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their
import of Iranian oil, taking into account current estimates of
demand, increased production by some countries, private inventories
of crude oil and petroleum products, and available strategic
petroleum reserves and, in fact, many purchasers of Iranian crude oil
have already reduced their purchases or announced they are in
productive discussions with alternative suppliers,” the spokesman
said in a release.
In coming to a decision on the sanctions, Mr. Obama had to navigate
some tricky political and foreign policy concerns. Many of the
countries that purchase Iranian oil are U.S. allies, including
several European countries, India, Japan and South Korea. The
sanctions bill, passed as part of a sweeping defense authorization
bill in December, allows the U.S. some flexibility to grant waivers
to countries who agree to significantly cut down their Iranian oil
The State Department has already announced 10 waivers to European
Union countries and Japan because of their agreements to reduce their
purchases of Iranian oil. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 03/31/12)
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