International Reaction to Iran Oil Waiver Decision

April 23, 2019
Updated

China and Turkey publicly pushed back against the U.S. decision to allow sanctions exemptions on the purchase of Iranian oil lapse on May 2. “China firmly opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called ‘long-arm jurisdictions’ imposed by the U.S.,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, adding that China had lodged a formal protest with the United States. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took to Twitter. “The #US decision to end sanctions waivers on #Iran oil imports will not serve regional peace and stability, yet will harm Iranian people. #Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbors,” he tweeted.

The other three countries affected by the U.S. decision were more circumspect. “[The] Government [of India] will continue to work with partner nations, including with the U.S., to find all possible ways to protect India's legitimate energy and economic security interests," said an Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson. Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said that Japan would "closely watch international oil markets” and “may consider taking necessary measures." South Korea had not issued any official statement as of April 23, but reportedly planned to send a delegation to the United States to discuss the issue.

Saudi Arabia and Israel both voiced support for the decision. Riyadh pledged to keep international oil markets supplied. “Saudi Arabia will coordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers while ensuring the global oil market does not go out of balance,” said Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih. The White House had said that it coordinated with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure stability in the oil market.

Major European expressed their disappointment with the U.S. move on May 5. “We, the High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, take note with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regards to trade in oil with Iran,” they said in a statement. The Europeans emphasized that the lifting of sanctions was an “essential part” of the nuclear deal with Iran, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018. The following is a roundup of international reactions to the U.S. sanctions waiver decision.

 

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Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang

“China opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdictions" imposed by the US. Our cooperation with Iran is open, transparent, lawful and legitimate, thus it should be respected. Our government is committed to upholding the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and will play a positive and constructive role in upholding the stability of global energy market.”

―Apr. 22, 2019, in a press briefing

“China firmly opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdictions" imposed by the US. The normal energy cooperation under the international law between Iran and other members of the international community, China included, is legitimate and lawful; thus it must be respected and protected.

We urge the US to earnestly respect China's interests and concerns, and refrain from taking wrong moves that will undermine our interests. We will continue to uphold the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses.

What the US did will inevitably add more instabilities in the Middle East and the global energy market. We urge the US to act in a responsible manner and play a constructive role instead of doing the opposite.

China has lodged representations with the U.S. side.”

“Besides, as an important oil producer, Iran's crude oil export is of great significance to the stability of the global energy market. The relevant US sanctions will inevitably add more instabilities to the international energy market, just like what happened in the market yesterday that you may have noticed. We advise the US side to act in a responsible manner and play a constructive role rather than doing the opposite.”

―Apr. 23, 2019, in a press briefing

 

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Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson

"[The] Government [of India] has noted the announcement by the US Government to discontinue the Significant Reduction Exemption to all purchasers of crude oil from Iran.

We are adequately prepared to deal with the impact of this decision. [The] Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has already issued a statement in this regard.
[The] Government will continue to work with partner nations, including with the US, to find all possible ways to protect India's legitimate energy and economic security interests."

―Apr. 23, 2019, in a press briefing

 

Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

“The Government of India has put in place a robust plan to ensure that there is adequate supply of crude oil to Indian oil refineries from May 2019 onwards. There will be additional supplies from other major oil producing countries from different parts of the world. The Indian refineries are fully prepared without any problem to meet the national demand for petrol, diesel and other petroleum products in the country.”

―Apr. 23, 2019, in an official statement

 

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

The #US decision to end sanctions waivers on #Iran oil imports will not serve regional peace and stability, yet will harm Iranian people. #Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbors. @StateDept @SecPompeo

―Apr. 22, 2019, in a tweet

 

 

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High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom

We, the High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, take note with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regards to trade in oil with Iran. We also note with concern the decision by the United States not to fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects in the framework of the JCPoA.

The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the JCPoA – it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people. We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal from the JCPoA.

We remain deeply convinced that the JCPoA is key to increasing stability and security in the Middle East region.

Together, we emphasise our continued commitment to the JCPoA, a crucial element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and essential for our national and shared European security.

The JCPoA is working and delivering on its goal, as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 14 reports.

We note Iran’s continued compliance with the JCPoA, as repeatedly confirmed by the IAEA. We call upon Iran to continue implementing in full its commitments under the JCPoA as well as its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The remaining participants to the JCPoA are committed to working on the preservation and maintenance of financial channels and exports for Iran, together with third countries interested in supporting the JCPoA. We are determined to pursue efforts, together with other European partners, to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the operationalization of the special purpose vehicle “INSTEX”. In this regard, the shareholders are committed to significantly increasing their financial contributions to INSTEX’s operational budget. We encourage all countries, including Russia and China as JCPOA participants, to make their best efforts to pursue the legitimate trade that the agreement allows for, through concrete steps.

We recall the European Council conclusions adopted on February 4th, 2019 and EU’s support for the development of EU-Iran relations in areas of common interest. Complementary to preserving the JCPoA, we support a comprehensive approach with Iran with a view to addressing all issues of concern including its contribution to regional instability and its missile activities.

―May 5, 2019, in a statement
 

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Japanese Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko

"We will closely watch international oil markets and exchange views with Japanese companies involved in crude imports and may consider taking necessary measures."

―Apr. 23, 2019, in a press briefing

 

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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Assaf

“Saudi Arabia fully supports this step taken by the United States as it is necessary to force the Iranian regime to end its policy of destabilizing stability and its support and sponsorship of terrorism around the world.”

―Apr. 23, 2019, in comments reported by Saudi state media

 

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al Falih

“Saudi Arabia is closely monitoring the oil market developments following the recent statement from the U.S. government regarding oil export sanctions on Iran. Saudi Arabia will coordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers while ensuring the global oil market does not go out of balance.”

―Apr. 22, 2019, in a statement

 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

"The decision of President Trump and the American administration is of great importance in increasing the pressure on the Iranian terrorist regime. We stand alongside the determination of the US against the Iranian aggression and this is the right way to stop it."

―Apr. 22, 2019, in a statement

 

Updated