Economic sanctions

Trump gambles on tightening Iran oil sanctions as 2020 looms

Iran ship
Passenger boat with Iranian flag overlooks oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

The White House is trying to thread a needle: Tighten oil sanctions against Iran without raising energy prices enough to erode the president's political standing.

Driving the news: ICYMI, the administration isn't renewing sanctions waivers beyond early May for countries that still buy Iranian oil.

Expert Voices

How Trump’s push to end Iran oil exports could backfire

Mike Pompeo at a lectern during State Department press conference
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department press conference on April 22. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration Monday dramatically escalated its campaign of economic warfare against Iran, announcing that it would not renew any waivers for countries to import Iranian oil after May 2.

The big picture: Per Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the goal is for Iran to reverse its foreign and domestic policies and accede to 12 demands he set out in a speech last year. But the plan is certain to face pushback from importers of Iranian oil, raise prices for consumers and further erode the value of sanctions as a tool of diplomacy.