Trump administration officials have been engaged in a global effort with international partners to choke off all Iranian oil exports and further squeeze the Islamic Republic's economy as protestors swarm the streets to express anger over the regime's continued support for global terror groups.
Senior Trump administration officials have been working overtime in Europe and Asia to gather support for its push to enforce harsh sanctions on Iran in a reversal of the Obama administration's efforts to spark investment in Iran, particularly its oil sector.
An interagency team of State and Treasury Department officials "have been explaining the new direction of our policy to our allies, working to garner their support for it," according to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on Tuesday. "We're going to isolate streams of Iranian funding and looking to highlight the totality of Iran's malign behavior across the region."
Trump administration officials will travel to Europe this week to continue applying pressure to international governments to cut off all of their Iranian oil imports to zero, the official confirmed. The administration is hoping to tout a successful international ban on Iranian oil exports by early November.
"We view this as one of our top national security priorities," the official said, adding that the administration's current thinking would not allow for waivers that allow some countries to skirt the oil ban. "I think the predisposition would be no, we're not granting waivers."
The administration official touted success in forcing international corporations to stop doing business with Iran following the White House's decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal.
"I am continually struck by the amount of business that is falling out of Iran," the official said, speaking only on background. Car maker "Peugeot and others simply view Iran as too risky a place to do business. And I think, frankly, that is a result of at least partially the president's decision on May 8th. Now, Iran also has a terrible investment climate. It is a place where it is not easy to make money, as one of our partners said. But genuinely companies respect secondary sanctions, by my experience."
"We have a lot of diplomatic muscle memory for urging, cajoling, negotiating with our partners to reduce their investments to zero," the official explained. "I think even—I think—and that message is one that is sometimes challenging, but these are serious diplomatic relationships we have. Our allies are aware of our concern."
European partners, once reticent to follow the United States's lead in abandoning business with Iran, are said to be coming around, according to the senior administration official.
"They want to work with us. I mean, this is—I don't want to get into the substance of each discussion I've had, but for the vast majority of countries they are willing—they are willing to adhere and support our approach to this because they also view it as a threat, and it's gotten worse in 2015, not better, on the regional activity side," the official said.