"We will consider waivers where appropriate but it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was on a visit to India on Thursday, intellinews.com reported.
However, he added that countries that obtain such a relaxation in the requirements must eventually halt all imports of crude from Iran as the US steps up its sanctions campaign against Tehran.
India is the second largest buyer of Iranian oil, behind China. Beijing has informed the US that it will only comply with UN sanctions against Iran. Previous reports have said New Delhi was pursuing waivers that would allow it to continue importing at least 50% of the Iranian oil it would normally expect to buy.
Until now, the US has played hardball with the oil sanctions that will be reimposed on Iran from November 4.
On Monday, sources said that India is allowing state refiners to import Iranian oil with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance after firms including the country’s top shipper Shipping Corp. of India (SCI) (SCI.NS) halted voyages to Iran due to US sanctions, Reuters reported.
New Delhi’s attempt to keep Iranian oil flowing mirrors a step by China, where buyers are shifting nearly all their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC).
The moves by the two top buyers of Iranian crude indicate that the Islamic Republic may not be fully cut off from global oil markets from November, when US sanctions against Tehran’s petroleum sector are due to start.
President Donald Trump ordered the reimposition of economic sanctions after withdrawing the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.