The U.S. has backed away from enforcing oil sanctions against Iran since President Joe Biden took office, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Iranian oil exports have spiked in recent years, suggesting that the Biden administration is choosing to not pursue sanctions enforcement as intensely amid increased diplomatic efforts, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the WSJ. The Biden administration has continued to ease off sanctions enforcement following the recent completion of a deal in which $6 billion and five Iranian nationals were transferred to Iran in exchange for five American prisoners.
“The Biden administration’s failure to enforce sanctions on Iran has made the world a less safe place,” Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst previously told the DCNF. “President Biden’s posture of appeasement toward our adversary must end.”
The number of tankers transporting Iranian and Russian oil has jumped from 60 in 2020 to 300 in 2023, according to the WSJ. Iranian oil production has soared to 3 million barrels a day and exports have reached almost 2 million barrels a day, a stark contrast to the limited 400,000 barrels exported a day in 2020 under former President Donald Trump.
During his tenure, Trump imposed harsh sanctions against Iran after scrapping a deal that restricted the country’s nuclear program in 2018, saying that the agreement was temporary and contained too many exemptions. Since Biden took office in 2021, his administration has sought to bring Iran back to the nuclear deal, though all attempts have thus far been unsuccessful.
While the Biden administration has not formally rolled back sanctions against Iran, it has chosen not to pursue them as aggressively in hopes of achieving a better diplomatic relationship, according to the WSJ. The Biden administration has continued to back off from seizing Iranian oil shipments after the recent competition of the $6 billion transfer of assets for prisoners with Iran.
Homeland Security Investigations has not seized an Iranian oil shipment in over a year, despite sanctions enforcement being the organization’s chief responsibility, according to the WSJ. Bipartisan lawmakers have criticized the Biden administration for its “lack of action” and allowance of Iran’s dismissal of the rules.
The Biden administration maintains that it follows “strict compliance” with sanctions enforcement, according to the WSJ.
“The United States has maintained strict compliance with all Iran-related sanctions and has not lifted any sanctions, any allegations to the contrary are false,” a National Security Council spokesperson told the WSJ. “In addition, we continue to vigorously engage with foreign partners to ensure they are complying with Iran-related sanctions.”
Shipowners in countries like Hong Kong, Germany and Singapore said they’re ready to start trading again if the Biden administration is lifting sanctions.
“I believe the U.S. looks the other way because Americans want cheap oil,” said Lars Barstad, chief executive of a Norway-based shipping company, according to the WSJ. “It’s a case of global law knocking heads with oil demand and the U.S. can’t police the entire world.”
The White House and Homeland Security Investigations did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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