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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Some nations will be given temporary waivers from sanctions against Iran

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answers questions from the media outside the White House June 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mnuchin said on July 16 that some nations would be given a temporary waiver from sanctions against Iran, to allow themselves time to find another source of oil. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the U.S. would be offering some nations waivers from its sanctions against Iran. This is a reversal from last month when a senior State Department official said that this was out of the question.

Here's what you need to know

“We want people to reduce oil purchases to zero, but in certain cases, if people can’t do that overnight, we’ll consider exceptions,” Mnuchin said during a press conference in Mexico on Friday.

After withdrawing from the Obama administration's Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. reimposed sanctions against the Iranian regime. The White House wants to see all Iranian oil exports to allied nations cut. If a nation refuses to comply and continues to do business with Iran, the U.S. government could punish them by making it difficult for those nations to do business with the United States.

Mnuchin acknowledged that ending all oil imports from Iran could be difficult for some nations who depend on it. But he added that the U.S. was unwilling to give anyone a permanent waiver, “but if there are specific situations, we’re open to listening.”

“We’ve said very specifically, there’s no blanket waivers, there’s no grandfathering,” he told reporters, “We want to be very careful in the wind-down around the energy markets to make sure that people have the time.”

It's unlcear at this time which countries would be granted these temporary waivers. Bruno Le Maire, the French Finance Minister, said that the Trump administration rejected a request for a waiver from French companies.

Also on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. was working with other nations to reimpose pre-deal sanctions on Iran and that "all but one" nation had agreed to this. He said he had not yet contacted the remaining nation, but did not clarify as to why that might be.

Has Iran responded?

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks that the U.S. was isolating itself by pursuing sanctions.

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