President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is ending oil waivers to the economic sanctions imposed against Iran in a move to eliminate the Middle Eastern country's petroleum exports and force it to the negotiating table.
"President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May. This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the White House said in a statement, according to NBC News.
In May, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord signed by former President Barack Obama with Iran in 2015. The reference to SREs relates to how the administration decided to grant six-month waivers to eight countries that imported crude oil from the Middle Eastern country. Although limits were imposed on the amount of crude oil that they could import, the policy nevertheless provided some relief to an economy that was otherwise hard hit by the sanctions.
Yet Trump is reportedly very upset that Iran has made no movement toward accepting the 12 demands laid out by the State Department as precursors to having the sanctions fully lifted. These include liberating American citizens currently being detained there, cutting off support for terrorist groups, eliminating its ballistic missile tests and further curbing its nuclear program.
"With the announcement today, we’ve made clear our seriousness of purpose. We are going to zero. How long we remain there, at zero, depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders. We’ve made our demands very clear to the Ayatollah and his cronies," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained during a press conference on Monday.
Trump also defended his new hard-line policy on Twitter by arguing that Iran had been led astray for foreign policymakers in the Obama administration, in particular Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil. Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?" Trump tweeted.
When it comes to Iran, Trump has often found himself at odds with his own foreign policy team, tweeting in January that his intelligence team was wrong in its assessment of the situation.
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran," Trump tweeted at the time. "They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"
Former CIA chief John Brennan responded to Trump by tweeting, "Your refusal to accept the unanimous assessment of U.S. Intelligence on Iran, No. Korea, ISIS, Russia, & so much more shows the extent of your intellectual bankruptcy. All Americans, especially members of Congress, need to understand the danger you pose to our national security."