U.S. grants Iran sanctions waivers to eight countries including India

An Iranian and a European flag

The waivers "look likely but not yet formally decided", a government official told The Hindu, indicating that the final word rests with U.S. President Donald Trump who must sign them before November 4. Indian public refineries like Mangalore has also been buying Iranian oil but not in the numbers that they were earlier.

United States hardliners want to press ahead on SWIFT, but others argue to keep the option as a bargaining card with the Europeans and say that SWIFT access remains useful in tracking Iranian transactions.

The Trump administration on Friday announced the restoration of the final round of sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal - though there will be some exemptions for eight countries.

Three of Iran's five largest buyers of crude - China, India and Turkey - have resisted calls by Washington to end their oil purchases outright.

Iran began selling crude oil to private companies for export on Sunday as part of a strategy to counter the planned sanctions.

Indian oil companies have been allowed to continue importing about 2.5 million tons of Iranian crude per month until March, sources familiar with the matter told the Economic Times.

India on Thursday said it was engaged with the US, Iran and other stakeholders on the issue of American sanctions on import of Iranian oil, amid indications that the Trump administration may grant New Delhi waiver from punitive measures.

Barack Obama, the USA president at the time, had argued the deal would prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms. "I think it's important that we not relax in the effort", he said.

"Most European countries - in spite of the UK, Germany, and France having determined that they want to stay inside the JCPOA, in spite of that, almost every significant European company has already fled Iran".

In a presidential memorandum addressed to secretaries of State, Treasury and Energy, Trump said he determined there was sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products elsewhere than Iran to permit a reduction in purchases from the Islamic Republic. During the summer, however, Iranian oil sales to India averaged much higher, topping out at a record 768,000 bpd during July. Currently, Iran provides its tankers as well as insurance for oil cargoes to India.

"Maximum pressure means maximum pressure", he said.

Previously, Pompeo has said "it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed", but also acknowledged that waivers were being negotiated with nations that say crude from the Middle East producer are critical to their energy industry.

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