FLASH: This dust-up could get very ‘ugly’
US President Trump’s national security team is deeply divided over whether to let a small group of countries keep buying Iranian Crude Oil after a US deadline on sanctions waivers expires in May. .
The division is primarily between John Bolton’s National Security Council and Michael Pompeo’s State Department has led to rising frustration and temper flare ups. It is exposing fault lines over how the President’s most senior advisers approach the Iran issue.
Above the fray
At least for now, is is the President who must weigh competing priorities.
While President Trump wants to make good on his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and strong-arm it into meeting US demands, including ending its ballistic missile tests and support for Hezbollah and there is concern that squeezing Tehran too much will lead to a spike in Crude Oil prices. That could raise gasoline costs for US drivers as the Y 2020 election nears. But that is not likely.
Favoring a tougher tack, Mr. Bolton and his team point out that Crude Oil prices remain low.
Larry Kudlow, the President’s chief economic adviser, backed that view in a meeting President Trump had Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime supporter of a hard line against Iran, arguing that dropping the waivers would not affect prices.
A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said agencies are coordinating closely to apply maximum pressure on Iran.
A State Department official said the US goal remains to get to Zero Iranian Crude Oil exports as quickly as possible, adding that the Secretary of State alone has the discretion to grant exemptions.
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