Washington – Congresswoman Liz Cheney led a group of House colleagues on a letter urging President Trump to maintain his maximum pressure campaign against Iran and not renew exceptions for the import of Iranian oil.

The letter read, in part:

“Cutting Iran’s oil exports to zero remains a key, and as yet unfulfilled, part of your Administration’s maximum pressure campaign. State Department Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said in January that 80 percent of Iran’s revenues come from its oil exports. Forcing Iran off of its oil money would leave the country’s leaders with a choice: they can either finance their own malicious terror schemes abroad, or they can support the Iranian people at home.

“Since leaving the nuclear deal, your Administration has squeezed Iran with an array of shrewd sanctions. This month, you took the unprecedented and necessary step of designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Now, in accordance with your maximum pressure campaign, the regime in Tehran must be pushed further. We urge you not to renew these oil exceptions and ensure that Iran’s leaders are unable to put their death chants into action.”

Read the full letter here.

On November 5, 2018, the Trump Administration fully re-imposed sanctions that were lifted or waived as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Alongside this re-imposition of sanctions, the Administration issued significant reduction exceptions (SREs) to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. The exceptions allowed these eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil.

At the time, the State Department said it granted these six-month exceptions on a temporary basis “to a handful of countries responsible to specific circumstances and to ensure a well-supplied oil market.” The SREs are set to lapse in May, and should not be renewed.

Eliminating Iranian oil exports is key to the Trump Administration’s maximum pressure campaign. The Administration’s stated goal is to cut Iranian oil exports to zero. Reports have indicated that there is sufficient spare capacity to make up for the removal of Iranian oil from the market. Additional information on the current state of Iranian oil exports and the impact of U.S. sanctions can be found here.