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Port of Kharg Island Oil Terminal, off the Iranian coast. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Oil prices are up following yesterday's claim by a senior State Department official that the U.S. doesn't intend to grant sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian crude oil.

Why it matters: The Trump administration plans to take a hard line once the penalties are reimposed in November, but the posture comes with uncertainties.

The quote: "I would be hesitant to say zero waivers ever. I think the predisposition would be no, we’re not granting waivers," the official told reporters.

The uncertainties:

  • How many barrels of Iranian crude can successfully be shut out of the market (as we've noted before, estimates before the U.S. comments have ranged from little impact to over a million barrels per day).
  • How much increased output from OPEC and Russia can — or can't — mitigate potential price rises that have domestic political consequences in the U.S.

Be smart: Veteran Reuters analyst John Kemp summed up the state of play on Twitter early Wednesday...

"[The] WHITE HOUSE can push Iran’s crude exports to zero, or it can have moderate oil prices, but cannot have both. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait likely do not have enough spare capacity to offset loss of all Iran barrels as well as Venezuela and other losses. White House must choose."

The intrigue: Some analysts cautioned that translating the tough posture into a major cut in Iranian exports isn't a given. An important line from S&P Global Platts' report...

  • "The US will face an 'extraordinarily difficult' task in cutting off all Iran oil trades, 'particularly if the US administration is still only in the process of conveying this message to Iran's oil purchasers,' said Elizabeth Rosenberg, director of the energy program at the Center for a New American Security."

Go deeper: The Wall Street Journal looks here at the market response to the sanctions comments.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "I am not going to resign"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.

Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."

Facebook to lift political ad ban imposed after November election

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will finally allow advertisers to resume running political and social issue ads in the U.S. on Thursday, according to a company update.

The big picture: Facebook and rival Google instituted political ad bans to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around the presidential election and its aftermath.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
46 mins ago - Technology

AI is industrializing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Artificial intelligence is becoming a true industry, with all the pluses and minuses that entails, according to a sweeping new report.

Why it matters: AI is now in nearly every area of business, with the pandemic pushing even more investment in drug design and medicine. But as the technology matures, challenges around ethics and diversity grow.