Senior US State Department officials working on the Iran issue are said to have convinced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to permit Iran to remain connected to the international banking system as part of the Trump administrations’ concessions to Iran.
While President Donald Trump vowed to enforce a bevy of new sanctions, senior officials in both the state and treasury departments have fallen in line with European allies, officials confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.
Iran is now set to continue doing business on the international banking system known as SWIFT, sources said. Additionally, the Trump administration will grant waivers to several countries allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian oil, another concession that the administration once said would not take place.
These concessions, pushed by European allies seeking to keep doing business with Iran as the US readies new sanctions on Nov. 4, have sparked outrage among Iran hawks on Capitol Hill and among some within the administration who have been pushing for a hard line on Iran.
The sanctions rollout was expected to take place early Friday, though the White House National Security Council leader John Bolton has declined to participate, as previously scheduled, sources confirmed. The cancelation is driving further speculation about unhappiness over the concessions to Iran.
The Free Beacon reported last week that the administration was considering allowing Iran to remain connected to SWIFT. Since that time, senior state department officials are said to have convinced Pompeo—a vocal and longtime Iran hawk—to go along with this plan, sparking further frustration among those advocating sanctions go fully into effect.
Containing the Pressure
“They’re gutting President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign,” according to one senior congressional staffer briefed by administration officials on Iran and SWIFT.
A second senior congressional aide intimately familiar with the situation told the Free Beacon that Obama-era holdovers in the state department and those loyal to former secretary of state Rex Tillerson have been leading the push to water down the Iran sanctions.
The concessions to Iran are said to include oil waivers to countries such as China, South Korea, and India, all of which purchase Iranian crude oil. Just several months ago, administration officials told the Free Beacon that waivers would not be an option in light of Trump’s desire to reduce Iranian oil imports to zero.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday however that SWIFT could be hit with US sanctions if it provides services to Iranian financial institutions that Washington blacklists.