Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran have cut off 95% of the oil revenue that Iran brings in, and that the administration is working with China and Europe to implement further sanctions against the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Mnuchin made the remarks on “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo in an interview that primarily centered around the new sanctions that the Trump administration launched against Iran in response to Iran’s missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq.
Mnuchin said, “The additional sanctions that we put on this week and the additional executive order that the president authorized gave us additional capabilities to target both primary and secondary sanctions in different sectors, including the metals industry, construction, and travel, amongst others.”
“Is there anything left or anyone left to sanction? I mean, how much farther can you go?” Bartiromo asked. “And what do you need to see from the Iranian regime to actually take these sanctions away?”
“Well, with the new executive order, we have very, very strong authorities now across all industries, including in this executive authority,” Mnuchin answered. “It gave both myself and Secretary Pompeo the authority to target additional sectors as needed.”
“And … this is all really about cutting off money, oil sales, other revenue that would be funding their terrorist activities and their nuclear weapons development. So we continue to allow for humanitarian transactions with Iran,” Mnuchin added. “I’m pleased to say that OFAC expedited all the waivers, as I said they would, as it relates to the airline crash investigation. And we don’t want to target people of Iran. We want to cut off revenues that are going for bad acts.”
Bartiromo noted the increased relations that Iran has developed with China and Russia in recent years, asking, “Why is China allowed to go around these sanctions and do business with Iran; 70 percent of their oil and gas going to China?”
Mnuchin responded by noting that the 70% that Bartiromo was referencing was 70% of a very small number as the Trump administration has effectively crushed 95% of Iran’s oil business.
“Let me just say we have got cut off probably over 95 percent of the oil revenues,” Mnuchin said. “So, there is a very small amount of oil revenues. And you’re right. A component of that, a big component of that is China.”
“I sat down with the Chinese officials. They flew in a delegation to meet with us in the State Department to talk about this,” Mnuchin continued. “They have cut off all of the state companies from buying oil. And we’re working closely with them to make sure that they cease all additional oil activities.”
“So you are pursuing trying to get China to cease all activities?” Bartiromo asked.
“China is subject to sanctions, like everybody else,” Mnuchin responded. “We actually sanctioned some of their shipping companies that were involved in the oil. And we will continue to pursue sanctions activities against China and anybody else around the world that continues to do business with them.”
“So what about France? You know, France is doing business Iran as well. What about the NATO countries, including France, that seem to be continuing their relationship with Iran, even as the U.S. pleads with them not to, promising sanctions?” Bartiromo asked. “Are we going to see secondary sanctions?”
“The Europeans are adhering to our primary sanctions. Again, as we roll out additional sectors, they will be cutting back activities in those sectors,” Mnuchin responded. “But the Europeans are complying with our primary sanctions, because they would be subject to secondary sanctions. And they understand that. And even in the case of INSTEX, we have warned INSTEX that they may be – depending upon how they set it up, they would most likely be subject to secondary sanctions as well.”
“But, again, let me just emphasize, humanitarian transactions are available,” Mnuchin concluded. “We’re setting up a Swiss channel to handle that. So, this is not about attacking the people of Iran. This is about, as the president said, making sure that Iran stops their terrorist activities and making sure that they never have nuclear weapons.”