Stories by Henry Rome

Expert Voices

As oil market recovers, Iran’s disruptions could continue

three oil barrels against a red background
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Iran’s alleged attack on Saudi oil facilities was a dramatic escalation in its shadow war with the U.S. and a clear sign that Tehran’s previous strategy was not working.

The big picture: Since May, Iran has tried to counter U.S. sanctions by tormenting the oil market with small-scale attacks, such as placing mines on ships in the Persian Gulf. Its goal has been to drive oil prices higher and thus raise the costs of the U.S. “maximum pressure” strategy.

Expert Voices

As Iran seeks negotiating leverage, risks of miscalculation multiply

Hassan Rouhani seated in a chair
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran's latest escalation — exceeding a key limitation of the 2015 nuclear agreement — continues its calculated, 2-pronged strategy to ratchet up pressure on the U.S.

The big picture: In the past 2 months, Iran or its proxies have allegedly attacked 6 oil tankers, shot down 2 U.S. drones and struck Saudi oil infrastructure. Meanwhile, Iran has taken a step-by-step approach to violating its commitments under the nuclear deal, provoking international condemnation and raising the odds of confrontation.

Expert Voices

U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil leave slim margin for future shocks

Mike Pompeo speaking at press conference
Secretary Mike Pompeo at a State Department press conference about the sanctions waivers on April 22. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Global oil prices plunged on Friday, erasing a week of gains after the U.S. said on Monday it would no longer issue waivers for Iranian oil imports. The administration's decision is likely to keep jostling oil markets as the waiver deadline approaches.

The big picture: The U.S. allowed 8 countries to buy Iranian crude and condensate over the past 6 months. The State Department has declined to address whether it will allow a “wind down” period for purchases beyond the May 2 deadline, after which importers would be immediately exposed to sanctions.