“There will be a handful of countries that come to the United States and ask for relief from that. We’ll consider it,” Pompeo said.
To the dismay of other signatories, US President Donald Trump in May announced his withdrawal from the hard-won 2015 international accord and reimposed sanctions. Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear capacities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
The sanctions included secondary penalties against businesses or foreign countries which continue commerce with Iran. Those firms must now choose between their investments in Iran and their access to the US market.
Washington gave them some time to pull out, leaving the latest sanctions relating to financial transactions and petroleum to take effect after November 4.
“There are still a number of decisions pending before the November 4th deadline that we gotta make about waivers, potential waivers,” Pompeo told a news conference.
Washington wants all countries to halt oil imports from Iran before November 4 if they want to avoid US penalties. Certain waivers have not been excluded, however, notably for India which depends heavily on Iranian petroleum.
Responding to a question, Pompeo said he did not know if sanctions would hit managers of Swift, the international financial messaging system, if they continue to deal with Iran.
“Come November 4th, there will be a fundamentally different set of rules regarding anyone who deems it necessary to engage in economic activity with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said.
The European Union, which continues to back the Iran nuclear accord, has tried unsuccessfully to obtain widespread waivers; many of its bigger companies have already pulled out of the country for fear of US sanctions.
Iran in late August opened a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice, demanding the suspension of the renewed US financial penalties which it says are devastating its economy.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.