Washington DC: The US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo was quick in describing this week’s coordinated terror blasts in Sri Lanka as a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror bloodshed, on a day that was supposed to be a joyful Easter Sunday
Pompeo was briefing media on 22 April 2019. He remarked: It’s heartbreaking that a country which has strived so hard for peace in recent years has been targeted by these terrorists. We mourn the loved ones of the victims, some of whom, we can confirm, were indeed U.S. citizens. This is America’s fight too. I spoke with the prime minister of Sri Lanka this morning (22 April, 2019). And our embassy and other parts of the U.S. Government are offering all possible assistance to Americans and the Sri Lankan Government alike. We urge that any evildoers be brought to justice expeditiously, and America is prepared to support that.
We also stand with the millions of Sri Lankans who support the freedom of their fellow citizens to worship as they please. We take confidence in knowing that not even atrocities like this one will deter them from respecting religious freedom. Today our nation grieves with the people of Sri Lanka, and we stand committed, resolved to confront terrorism together.
“Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.” – Michael R. Pompeo , the US Secretary of StateThe US Secretary of State briefing media on 22 April 2019
Almost one year ago, after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump implemented the strongest pressure campaign in history against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The goal remains simple: To deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilize the Middle East for four decades, and incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country.
Up to 40 percent of the regime’s revenue comes from oil sales. It’s the regime’s number one source of cash. Before our sanctions went into effect, Iran would generate as much as $50 billion annually in oil revenue. Overall, to date, we estimate that our sanctions have denied the regime well north of $10 billion.
The regime would have used that money to support terror groups like Hamas and Hizballah and continue its missile development in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and it would have perpetuated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Our goal has been to get countries to cease importing Iranian oil entirely.
Last November, we granted exemptions from our sanctions to seven countries and to Taiwan. We did this to give our allies and partners to wean themselves off of Iranian oil, and to assure a well-supplied oil market.
Today I am announcing that we will no longer grant any exemptions. We’re going to zero across the board. We will continue to enforce sanctions and monitor compliance. Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.
The United States has been in constant discussion with allies and partners to help them transition away from Iranian crude to other alternatives. And we have been working with major oil-producing countries to ensure the market has sufficient volume to minimize the impact on pricing. Both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have assured us they will ensure an appropriate supply for the markets. And of course, the United States is now a significant producer as well.
We have made our demands very clear to the Ayatollah and his cronies. End your pursuit of nuclear weapons. Stop testing and proliferating ballistic missiles. Stop sponsoring and committing terrorism. Halt the arbitrary detention of U.S.citizens.
With respect to our objectives, we’re happy to receive the – we’re happy to get the outcome however we can achieve it. The President’s always made very clear, we’ve made clear to Iran’s leaders, that if Americans are attacked, we will respond in a serious way. And so I don’t think there should be any doubt about the fact that if it is required for us to take an action in response to something that Qasem Soleimani does or the Iranian leadership, or a Shia militia somewhere in the world, that we will respond to that in a way that is appropriate to protect American interests wherever we find them.
With respect to our goal, we laid them out.
There are 12 things we’re looking for. When we get to those things, we are happy to re-engage with Iran as a normal nation. If they’re prepared to come to the table and negotiate those things to get to that outcome, fantastic. If not, the campaign with which we’ve been engaged since, frankly, the administration took office, but more clearly since the President’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, the campaign will continue. And we built that enormous coalition to work on this, right. Gulf state partners, Israel, lots of countries that are working alongside us to achieve these objectives.
The Europeans with increasing risk from the assassination campaign that’s taking place inside of their country.
We watch as Iran continues to try and have a role in protecting Maduro in Venezuela. This is causing countries in South America to understand that the expeditionary nature of the Islamic Republic is something that threatens citizens all across the world. And so this is not the United States alone; it’s a true coalition working to achieve the ends which we have laid out.
We have watched Iran have diminished power as a result of our campaign. Their capacity to wreak harm around the world is absolutely clearly diminished. I talked about it with respect to Hizballah not being able to make payroll in a timely fashion. I’ve talked about it in other places as well. What we’re announcing this morning, the designation of the IRGC a couple of weeks back, actions that we’ll take in a handful of weeks – each of these things will continue to support the Iranian people so that they can get what they ultimately are so desperately seeking.
It is the case that every Iranian leader – that includes President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif – has accepted the notion, has accepted this fundamental notion of the nature of the regime itself, right. So they accept that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the appropriate method for which Iran to engage – when – once they’ve conceded that, in our view, these distinctions are often – are often insignificant. That is, if you are pushing and you are supporting Qasem Soleimani’s efforts in Iraq, if you’re supporting the efforts of the IRGC’s Qods Force and Hizballah, and you’re supporting the underwriting of Hamas, by definition that is working against what America has laid out as our objective.
Question: Oil supplies are pretty tight given that a lot of oil’s come off Venezuela as well. What are your discussions – China said today that the U.S. had reached beyond its jurisdiction. What have your – what assurances do you have from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, to supply the market in a timely fashion? The five largest importers of Iranian oil, will they abide by what you are asking of them?
Oil supplies are pretty tight given that a lot of oil’s come off Venezuela as well. What are your discussions – China said today that the U.S. had reached beyond its jurisdiction. What have your – what assurances do you have from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, to supply the market in a timely fashion? The five largest importers of Iranian oil, will they abide by what you are asking of them?
We’ve made clear: If you don’t abide by this, there’ll be sanctions. Right? This is what we’re laying out this morning. We have a requirement and – to conduct these transactions, one almost always needs to participate in the financial markets, and we intend to enforce the sanctions. We don’t lay out sanctions that we don’t have any intention of encouraging countries to cooperate with.
Radical Islamist terror remains a threat. The President’s been very clear about that; I think I’ve been very clear about that. We are continuing to do real work against these evil human beings that went into places of worship on Easter Sunday. Yeah, the – we’ve taken that threat down substantially. The destruction of the caliphate was important, and it mattered, and the takedown of these threats from other geographies as well. But sadly, this evil exists in the world, and the United States and all of its partners that are cooperating in the D-ISIS campaign – some 80 countries, and other nations too that are assisting us in defeating this terrorism around the world – we have to remain active and vigilant and it’s going to require attention. There’s no doubt about that.
Update: April 23, 2019
Response from the Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, to queries on India’s reaction to the announcement by US to discontinue the Significant Reduction Exemption to all purchasers of crude oil from Iran
In response to queries on India’s reaction to the announcement by the US to discontinue the Significant Reduction Exemption to all purchasers of crude oil from Iran, the Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, said,
Government has noted the announcement by the US Government to discontinue the Significant Reduction Exemption to all purchasers of crude oil from Iran.
We are adequately prepared to deal with the impact of this decision. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has already issued a statement in this regard.
Government will continue to work with partner nations, including with the US, to find all possible ways to protect India’s legitimate energy and economic security interests.
Statement of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on the announcement by US to discontinue the Significant Reduction Exemption to all purchases of crude oil from Iran
“The Government of India has put in place a robust plan to ensure that there is adequate supply of crude oil to Indian oil refineries from May 2019 onwards. There will be additional supplies from other major oil producing countries from different parts of the world. The Indian refineries are fully prepared without any problem to meet the national demand for petrol, diesel and other petroleum products in the country.”