PARIS (Reuters) - The United States still aims to cut Iran’s oil sales to zero and does not expect restored oil sanctions against Tehran to have a negative impact on a market that is well-supplied and balanced, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, was talking to reporters after a visit to India, a major importer of Iranian oil, and talks with officials from France, Britain and Germany before the start of a new round of U.S. sanctions on Nov. 4.
The three European countries have been trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and multiple global powers since U.S. President Trump announced in May that the United States would withdraw from the pact.
In a conference call from Luxembourg, where Hook was meeting European officials, he said that Iran uses oil revenue to support and fund terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East and that the U.S. goal is for countries to cut Iranian oil imports to zero as quickly as possible.
“We are working with countries that are reducing their imports to ensure that this happens,” he said.
Hook declined to answer questions on possible waivers on sanctions for countries that are reducing their imports but said the U.S. is confident that energy markets will remain stable.
“We are seeing a well-supplied and balanced oil market right now. We should focus on these fundamentals and not be distracted by the emotional and unbalanced claims coming from Tehran.”
Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, has repeatedly said that its oil exports cannot be reduced to zero because of high demand in the market.
Washington, meanwhile, plans to continue co-ordinating with oil producers and maintain U.S. supply.
“Our crude oil production increased by 1.65 million barrels in August compared to one year ago and that is expected to continue rising by as much as 1 million barrels a day within the next year,” he said.
Hook also said that European efforts to create a special purpose vehicle for trade with Tehran would find no demand because more than 100 foreign firms have indicated that they would be leaving the country.
Reporting by John Irish; Editing by David Goodman