Hook said that Donald Trump had always “made it very clear that [the US needed] to have a campaign of maximum economic pressure” on the Iranian Regime, but that he also wants to make sure that the oil market is well supplied so that there was no crash.
Hook said: “That policy has not changed.”
And it appears to be working. The US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela – two of the biggest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – combined with production cuts by OPEC and Russia have pushed up the price of heavy crude without actually destabilising the global oil market. In fact, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that world supply will exceed demand by 440,000 barrels per day in 2019
Last year, when the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal, citing Iran’s malign behaviour, it imposed sanctions against Iran in order to cut the country off economically. This, the US explained, would stop Iran from having the money to continue its nuclear programme or fund terrorist militias.
However, the US allowed eight countries to keep importing Iranian oil until May 2019 in order to stabilise the oil market and make it more likely that the sanctions would work long-term.
Hook, a senior policy adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said: “When you have a better-supplied oil market it enables us to accelerate our path to zero. But we also know that there are a lot of variables that go into a well-supplied and stable oil market.”
The US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last May, with Trump calling it a “one-sided deal”. Since the withdrawal, we have only learnt more about how Iran violated the deal by not destroying its reactor, buying and hiding replacement parts for the things it did destroy, and not allowing inspectors to see nuclear sites.