Pence: Low Oil Prices Allow US to Impose More Sanctions

Prices inform US policy toward Iran, Venezuela

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that the current price of oil remains low enough to allow the US not only to continue with its sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, but to “bring even more pressure” on the nations going forward.

Though the price of oil is up some off of its lows of 2018, White House officials were quick to point out it’s still not at the highest prices it’s been, and clearly the price is informing a lot of US policy.

US Special Envoy Brian Hook reported that Italy, Greece, and Taiwan have all had their waivers to buy oil from Iran revoked, bringing Iranian exports down to 1.1 million barrels per day. The administration’s stated goal is to get Iran’s exports to zero.

Yet getting exports to zero would cause a substantial shortage on the market, and there is no easy replacement available. This is doubly true with the US also forbidding Venezuela to sell oil, or at least to get paid for it.

While this may ultimately cap how high the sanctions can go, the growing US oil market may suggest that this is informing the administration in both directions, and that they would not want to ease sanctions if it means US oil becomes less valuable on the world markets.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.