Stories by Robert Johnston

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

Town hall could test traction of climate policy in Democratic primary

stack of file folders on a lectern with a microphone
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

At Wednesday night's climate change town hall, top Democratic presidential candidates will be challenged to lay out a climate strategy that is both effective and politically viable.

The big picture: Despite efforts by state governments and the private sector, the U.S. has a long way to go to formulate a coherent and globally credible climate strategy. A dedicated town hall offers Democratic primary voters a chance to scrutinize proposals like the sweeping Green New Deal and it reflects their growing sense of urgency around climate change.

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.