Pakistan among 12 countries that may be hit by US sanctions over Iran oil

Published: March 23, 2012
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The sanctions impose restrictions on those countries dealing with Iran's central bank. PHOTO: REUTERS

The sanctions impose restrictions on those countries dealing with Iran's central bank. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Twelve countries including Pakistan may get hit with US sanctions for importing crude oil from Iran.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a list of 11 countries that had been exempted from sanctions, after they had “significantly reduced” their purchases of crude oil from Iran.

While a State Department official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity did not reveal the names of countries that could potentially face sanctions, Reuters reported that China, Iran and Pakistan were on the list.

According to Secretary Clinton’s statement, she would certify to Congress that financial institutions based in these eleven countries would not have to face sanctions for a renewable period of 180 days.

According to the National Defense Authorisation Act 2012, the United States may impose sanctions on those countries that are purchasing petroleum products from Iran within 180 days of passing the Act if the President determines that “there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions.”

A State Department official said that approximately 23 countries had been importing Iranian crude oil.

According to the official, on June 28 of this year, if the US President has already determined that if price and supply conditions enable countries to switch from Iran to other supplies, then another set of sanctions comes into effect. The State Department official said, “Those sanctions are against any transactions with the Central Bank of Iran by any financial institution, whether it’s private or public, related to the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products for Iran.”

In response to a question, the official said, “For those 12 countries, they – it is – they now have an example that they can look at to determine what kind of actions that they might be willing to consider domestically. In terms of sanctionable activity, we can’t comment on that because the first step has to be to determine and detect whether there is sanctionable activity, and secondly, to then determine if there is a case to be built up around it.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday at the daily press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the US was in the middle of negotiations with individual countries on the subject of decreasing crude oil imports from Iran. The United States has earlier made it clear that it does not believe the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project is a good idea.

In February, during her testimony to a House committee hearing, Secretary Clinton said, “we believe that actually beginning the construction of such a pipeline, either as an Iranian project or as a joint project, would violate our Iran sanctions law. So, you know, we all know what the consequences of that are. And it would be particularly damaging to Pakistan because their economy is already quite shaky. This additional pressure that the United States would be compelled to apply would further undermine their economic status. So we’ve been, you know, very clear in pointing out the consequences of pursuing such a pipeline.”

Speaking to Express News on the Pakistan-Iran pipeline and the sanctions, Shuja Nawaz, the South Asia Director at the Atlantic Centre, said that according to experts they had spoken to, countries could go to the WTO and take their case there. “These sanctions might be cancelled, but countries such as India do not want their relations with the US to worsen, especially when there is a lot of investment and trade potential with the US.”

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Uzair J
    Mar 23, 2012 - 2:29AM

    Who the (F)oxtrot(U)niform(C)harlie*(K)ilo is the problem with US. Its our need and our wish to buy oil or palm oil from any country we wish to. Did anyone put sanctions on the US when US intelligence transported abducted as well as bribed German nuclear scientists to the united-states and started on their own nuclear program!! they are becoming more of a global bully with poodles all round the globe including our administrators

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  • Nader Junaid
    Mar 23, 2012 - 2:57AM

    I am afraid this Sanctions thing on China , Iran n Pakistan may just give birth to a new Financial transactions order in the world. Just like nations betting All or Nothing for Nukes because of Nation Buildings and selective Arab Spring.

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  • Alami Musafir
    Mar 24, 2012 - 4:35PM

    The best answer to US sanctions on Pakistan is Pakistani sanctions on the US, namely to permanently block all US supplies through both Pakistani land as well as airspace to Afghanistan. And with preset penalties for reopening…such that even if things change and the US tries to act chummy and supplies are allowed through then they would still incur a say, USD 40 billion penalty payable in advance and in gold before anything else happens.

    The days of begging and handwringing are over. Hitting back is the only answer that the US understands…but will our leaders also understand this ?

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