Dubai — US President Donald Trump threatened to slap sanctions on Iraq after the parliament in Baghdad voted to kick foreign troops out of OPEC's second largest oil producer and Iran decided to end its nuclear enrichment commitments in the 2015 deal.
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Iraq's parliament voted to expel the US-led coalition troops following the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleiman in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday. Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had urged parliament to end foreign troop presence in the country.
"We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that's there," Trump said aboard Air Force One, US media reported.
"If they do ask us to leave, if we don't do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame."
US troops have been stationed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein. The US military strike in Baghdad was in response to Soleimani's role in recent attacks on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region, including his approval of the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad last week.
The killing of Soleimani has led to an exchange of threats between Iran and Trump, who vowed ina tweet to hit 52 Iranian sites if Tehran strikes back.
Iranian Information and Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi likened Trump to Hitler in reply to Trump's tweet.
"Like ISIS, like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures," the minister tweeted on Sunday. "Trump is a 'terrorist in a suit'. He will learn history very soon that NOBODY can defeat the Great Iranian Nation & Culture."
Iran has decided to end all enrichment commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA) nuclear deal that had curtailed its nuclear program.
"The Islamic republic's nuclear program is no longer restricted in the operational area (including enrichment capacity, percentage of enrichment, volume of enriched material, research and development)," according to a government statement read on state television. "And from now on, Iran'snuclear program will proceed merely based on its technical needs. Should the sanctions be lifted andIran benefits from the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic is ready to return to its JCPOA's commitments."
Last year, Iran began curtailing its commitments after the US withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran's oil sector, which has led to a huge fall in the country's oiloutput and exports. The UK, France, China, Russia and Germany remain in the deal, but analysts say their patience is wearing thin as negotiations with Iran have not resulted in any agreements.
"We specifically call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation, and urgeIran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA," the heads of state and government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom said Monday in a statement.
"We recall our attachment to the sovereignty and security of Iraq. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilize Iraq."
Iranian oil exports have plunged in the past year due to US sanctions crippling the country's oil export revenues.
Iranian oil exports, which averaged more than 1.7 million b/d in March, fell below 500,000 b/d in September and October, based on estimates compiled from shipping sources and cFlow, Platts trade flow software.
Exports were around 400,000 b/d in November, according to preliminary Platts estimates.
Sanctions on Iraq would hurt its oil industry, which is already being rattled by protests that temporarily shut an oil field south of the country in December, without impacting production or exports.
Iraq pumped 4.64 million b/d of crude in November, above its 4.51 million b/d quota under the previous agreement by a coalition of OPEC and other oil producers, or OPEC+, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey.
Iraq flouted its quota for most of 2019, but has pledged to comply better with the new OPEC+ agreement, which has deepened cuts to 1.7 million b/d starting January 1, 2020, from the previous 1.2million b/d.
Under the new agreement that runs through March 2020, Iraq will have to cut a further 50,000 b/d to comply with the new OPEC+ pact.
US oil workers in Iraq have continued to exit Iraq in response to the US urging its citizens toleave the country for security reasons.
Oil production and exports remain unaffected despite the withdrawal of US employees from Exxon Mobil, BP and Halliburton, oil ministry sources told S&P Global Platts.
There was a small demonstration on Sunday near a de-gassing station in West Qurna 1, a giant field operated by Exxon, with the demonstrators shouting and holding anti American slogans, accordingto oil sources in Iraq.
Despite the small demonstration, production from the field, which is around 400,000 b/d, was not affected.
Exxon and BP declined to comment about their workers and Halliburton didn't immediately respondto an email seeking comment outside US business hours.
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