The International Monetary Fund is forecasting Iran’s economy to shrink by 6% this year as it faces pressure from U.S. sanctions.
In a report released Monday, the IMF said its estimates for Iran, which include the potential for inflation to top 40%, predate a U.S. decision to end waivers that have allowed some Iranian oil buyers to continue making their purchases despite new sanctions that went into effect last year.
The Trump administration is due to formally end the waivers on Thursday for some of Iran’s top crude purchasers, including China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea.
The United States says it wants to deprive Iran of $50 billion in annual oil revenues to pressure it to end its nuclear and missile programs. The White House says it is working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure an adequate world oil supply.
Turkey and China have attacked the U.S. action, but it is not clear whether they will continue to buy Iranian oil.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said an interview broadcast on the U.S. cable show Fox News Sunday accused the United States of trying to “bring Iran to its knees” and overthrow its government by seeking to thwart its international oil trade.
He said U.S. officials are “wrong in their analysis. They are wrong in their hope and illusions.”
Zarif said the fact that Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program “would not put the U.S. in the good list of law-abiding nations.” Iran state media reported that Zarif told Iranian reporters in New York that Tehran’s withdrawal from the pact is one of “many options” it is considering in the wake of the U.S. end to the waivers on sanctions for countries buying oil from Iran.
Zarif said a team of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, and leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is trying to push U.S. President Donald Trump “into a confrontation he doesn’t want.”
“They have tried to bring the U.S. into a war,” Zarif said, with the goal, “at least,” of Iranian regime change.
Bolton, appearing on the same Fox News program, said the U.S. goal is not regime change, but a change in behavior, specifically an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile testing.
“The Iranian people deserve a better government,” Bolton said.
He called Zarif’s accusations “completely ridiculous, an effort to sow disinformation.”