Oil prices fall as USA grants Iran sanction waivers to eight importers

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf

While the administration said it has reduced Iran's daily oil exports by more than a million barrels a day, Pompeo acknowledged the us granted eight countries waivers to continue buying Iran's oil without penalties for six more months.

The sanctions target Iran's energy, financial and shipping sectors and are aimed at crippling the country's economy following President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr Trump's administration says it wants a new deal with Iran that curbs its interventions around the Middle East and missile programme - demands that have been flatly rejected by Teheran.

Rouhani then noted another victory for Iran, in which the United States was forced to agree to let eight countries, including Japan, India and South Korea, keep buying Iranian oil after the re-imposition of sanctions on November 5, even though Trump had previously vowed to cut Iran's oil sales to zero.

Six months after Trump pulled out of an global agreement on ending Tehran's nuclear program, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the ultimate USA goal was for Iran to make a "180-degree turn" and abandon its "revolutionary course".

Oil prices dipped on Monday as the start to US sanctions against Iran's fuel exports was softened by waivers that will allow some countries to still import Iranian crude, at least temporarily.

"They need a little bit more time to get to zero", Pompeo explained.

Hours earlier, Trump called the sanctions the toughest ever imposed by the United States against Iran.

"And isn't this a retreat for the United States?" he added.

"An important component of our diplomacy is standing with the Iranian people, they are the longest-suffering victims of the regime's brutality and economic mismanagement".

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Iranian state media said millions turned out for rallies in most cities and towns around the country, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and its hardline authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Oil markets have been preparing for the sanctions for months.

The U.S. president abandoned the nuclear agreement in May, accusing Iran of violating the deal.

Iranian state television aired footage of air defence systems and anti-aircraft batteries in two-day military manoeuvres underway across a vast stretch of the country's north.

The deal was greeted at the time with relief and excitement by Iranians who had seen their economy crushed by the restrictions on trade.

"We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power".

Earlier rounds of sanctions targeted 31 aircraft operated by five other Iranian airlines, after the USA claimed the airlines were using their planes to transport weapons to Tehran-backed proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon.

He would not rule out the Trump administration extending the waivers beyond six months.

South Korea, a USA ally and one of Asia's biggest buyers of Iranian oil, asked Washington for "maximum flexibility" last week, after some of its construction firms cancelled energy-related contracts in Iran due to financing difficulties. He said the pressure "is only going to mount from here" unless Iran's leaders halt its support for terrorism and abandon its nuclear ambitions "immediately". Those firms include Bank Melli, Arian Bank, Future Bank and the Export Development Bank of Iran.

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