By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he is cautious about the effects his sanctions will have on global oil markets, saying the penalties will be imposed gradually.
"I don’t want to drive the oil prices in the world up," he said addressing reporters shortly after the U.S. reinstated all of the sanctions it lifted as part of a nuclear accord world powers struck with Iran.
"I’m not looking to be a great hero and bring it down to zero immediately," he said, referring to global imports of Iranian oil. "I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market. I don’t want to lift oil prices."
The U.S. earlier announced that eight countries — China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — are being granted temporary six month waivers from the economic penalties targeting imports of Iranian crude. Iran is OPEC's third largest oil exporter.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the exemptions are intended to ensure oil markets continue to be well-supplied.
Pompeo said each country which received waivers “has already demonstrated significant reductions of the purchase of Iranian crude over the past six months," adding two of the eight have reduced imports of Iranian crude to zero.
"We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero," he said.
Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May, setting the stage for Washington to reimpose all of the sanctions it lifted as part of the agreement.
All of the other signatories — China, the European Union, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the United Kingdom — have remained in the deal.
The accord provided Iran with billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions in exchange for sweeping curbs on and inspections of its nuclear program.