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Wall Street: Washington is considering imposing sanctions on Iranian oil sales

The Wall Street Journal, quoting American sources, said that the United States is considering imposing strict sanctions on Iranian oil sales, especially those directed to China, noting that the aim of imposing these sanctions is to urge Tehran to conclude the nuclear agreement.


US officials said, according to the newspaper, that Washington is studying many options available to it to urge Tehran to continue negotiating over its nuclear program, or to punish it if it refrains from doing so, and they explained that the sanctions under study will be imposed on shipping networks that help export Iran's oil abroad.


In its report published on Monday afternoon, the newspaper said that US negotiators have been working with other European and international partners in Vienna since April to revive the 2015 agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program in exchange for broad sanctions relief. As talks falter, Washington is going through options aimed at prodding Iran to continue negotiating or punishing Iran if it does not, according to US officials and people familiar with the matter.


Officials said one of the plans being drafted would stifle bloated Iranian crude oil sales to China, the country's main customer, through new sanctions targeting shipping networks that help export an estimated 1 million barrels per day and generate critical revenue for Iran.


They added that the new steps would take place if the nuclear talks failed, and that the plan would include strict enforcement of existing sanctions that already ban dealings with Iran's oil sector and shipping through new sanctions or legal measures.


Officials said no decision had been made on the way forward. There are risks that these efforts will backfire, prompting Iran to accelerate its nuclear program. Officials said other options were also being considered.


It includes a diplomatic campaign to persuade China, India and other major buyers of crude oil to cut imports, non-oil deals, debt financing and remittances, a second official said.


Negotiations stalled after Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran would not agree to a deal without a comprehensive lifting of US sanctions, something Washington said it would not do. Iran's deputy foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi tweeted on Saturday that talks should wait until Raisi's inauguration next month.