The United States has softened its stance on new Iran sanctions after warnings that a possible face-off between the two countries would push oil prices back into the triple digits.
With the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and its central bank about to take effect on November 4, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that his country may grant oil sanctions waivers to countries seeking relief from the measures.
The remarks were a sharp climbdown from Washington’s hardline position, including President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring Iran’s oil exports down to zero.
“There will be a handful of countries that come to the United States and ask for relief from that. We’ll consider it,” Pompeo told Sky News Arabia during a visit to Abu Dhabi, according to a State Department transcript released Tuesday.
The announcement by the hawkish US top diplomat stood in sharp contrast with his list of 12 steep demands that he laid out in May, asking Iran to meet them in exchange for the US easing of sanctions.
Among Iran’s major oil clients, South Korea and Japan have sought waivers but China, India and Turkey have indicated they may not heed US measures. Oil customers in Europe may also be seeking exemptions.