On Monday, the US government announced that it would not renew waivers for Iranian oil importers that are valid through 1 May, 2019. The waivers were granted to eight countries: China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey in November 2018.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday that Iran will continue to sell its oil despite US sanctions and survive Washington’s attempt to deal with Tehran through oppression.
However, Schirach, president of the Global Policy Institute and chair in International Relations at Bay Atlantic University, cautioned that the success of the policy was not guaranteed and that the Trump administration’s ability to enforce it would be seen around the world as a test of US power.
"The termination of the waiver on the Iranian oil sanctions is a test of US power," Schirach said. "If significant buyers ignore Washington, then the implication is that America lost its standing… This may be very problematic."
Schirach predicted it would not take long for the world to see how effective the US government had been in its efforts to shut down Iran’s remaining international oil trade.
"In the weeks ahead we shall see if America has the strength to impose full compliance. I doubt it," Schirach said.
Having proclaimed the new policy, the Trump administration now had no choice but to push ahead and try to implement it as effectively as possible, Schirach explained.
"Clearly, if the United States does not want to look foolish it must do its best to enforce the oil sanctions. The unknown here is how effective will Washington be in pressuring Iran," he said.
US ability to ensure the success of the new policy was especially problematic and limited across Asia, Schirach pointed out.
"The United States has no leverage on China and only limited ability to put strong pressure on India, let alone Japan and South Korea, the only two serious allies Washington has in Asia," he said.
"If the United States doggedly goes after the sanctions busters then we enter a very dangerous territory. Is Washington going to escalate tensions with — say China or Turkey — just to try to look credible on Iran? Or is this just bluster?" he asked.
The Trump administration had committed itself to an extremely complicated and difficult diplomatic and economic challenge in ensuring that nations willing to abandon their oil trade with Tehran would be able to find replacement energy supplies elsewhere, Schirach noted.
"All countries importing oil from Iran should find other suppliers. Making this happen may not be easy," he said.
However, prospects remained positive that there were sufficient oil supplies available on the open market to compensate for the shortfalls and disruptions the new US policy would generate, Schirach stated.
"Short of a military conflict in the Persian Gulf that might disrupt Saudi and other Gulf exports, no oil shortages are envisaged. Oil consumers around the world will be able to get their crude — perhaps at a higher price until other producers ramp-up, but without the convulsions of the oil shocks of 1973/74 or 1979," he said.
The world’s largest oil producing nations — the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia — all looked to gain financially from the new US anti-Iran sanctions policy as it would boost global prices for their main export and currency earner, Schirach observed.
"All told, major exporters like Russia and Saudi Arabia stand to gain from these US sanctions. Higher oil prices, more revenue for them. Same for US oil producers," he said.
US officials have said that the new zero waivers policy is part of a strategy to bring Iran oil experts to zero.
*Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Paolo von Schirach and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.