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US presses Iran's oil customers to cut imports to zero by November 4: State Department

Washington — The US is pressing Iran's oil customers to zero out their imports byNovember 4 and has no plans to issue sanctions waivers, a strategy thatcould spark an oil price spike as global supply tightens.

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"We will certainly be requesting that their oil imports go to zero,without question," a senior State Department official said Tuesday duringa background briefing with reporters.

US diplomats have visited Japan and Europe to explain the sanctionsroll-out. The official said he would be visiting China and India soon.

The US will also work with its "Middle Eastern partners" in a week or soto "ensure that the global supply of oil is not adversely affected by thesesanctions," the State Department official said.

"We view this as one of our top national security priorities," theofficial said. "I would be hesitant to say zero waivers ever. But I thinkthe predisposition would be, no, we're not granting waivers."

Some analysts predicted when US President Donald Trump exited the Irannuclear deal in May that his administration would take a hard line onsanctions implementation and not offer any waivers to allow allies to continueimporting some Iranian oil.

The Obama administration, in contrast, granted sanctions waivers tocountries in 2012-2015 as long as they demonstrated significant reductionsevery six months. The US generally sought a target reduction of 20% at thetime. --Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

--Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com