Brian Hook, head of the Iran Action Group, speaks at a press conference at the US State Depatment in Washington, D.C., on November 8, 2018. Photo: AP TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The US Department of State provided more information on the extent of the Trump administration's "waiver" for Iraq with regards to energy sanctions on Iran.
"We granted Iraq a waiver to allow it to continue to pay for its electricity imports from Iran. We are confident that this will help Iraq limit electricity shortages in the south," Brian Hook, who is heading the Iran Action Group, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.
The United States reintroduced energy sanctions on Iran on Monday. Iraq was not among the eight countries initially announced as being exempt for 180 days.
Iran is Iraq's largest trading partner and the southern provinces heavily depend on Iranian electricity imports. Iraq as a whole has an aging electrical grid that doesn't meet the needs of its rising population.
"Iraq is a friend and a partner, and we are committed to its stability and prosperity," added Hook.
Washington is trying to balance Saudi Arabian influence in Baghdad with Iranian. Hook was asked about compliance.
"We are very pleased with how we are working with the Iraqis," he responded.
Hook described Riyadh as playing a "helpful role" in maintaining oil production for the global market.
He confirmed that the US goal is to bring Iranian oil exports to "zero."
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) deputy commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said the "enemy is seeking to strike a blow to Iran but it will suffer a heavy defeat," Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.
He described the United States as a "declining power."
The new sanctions were introduced after the US withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May, claiming it had failed to stop Iran from developing its nuclear program and from interfering in the affairs of the wider region.
The move has been widely criticized by European and other signatories of the JCPOA, who argue Iran has met all of its obligations under the nuclear deal.
Handout picture by Yemeni Presidency on March 2, 2015, shows President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi (left) standing with US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller (right) during a press conference in Aden. File photo: AFP
Trump announces nomination Ambassador to Yemen Tueller
US President Donald Trump will nominate current Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller to replace outgoing Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman who has been posted in Baghdad since 2016.
The White House made the announcement on Wednesday.
Tueller, a career diplomat appointed by former President Barack Obama, was previously ambassador to Kuwait.
Following Republican gains in the senate, Trump's diplomatic appointees are very likely to be approved.