United States President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Jim Watson

The sting of the Trump administration’s decision not to re-issue waivers on Iran oil sanctions faded on Friday with crude prices dropping more than 3% following comments from the US president.

“The gasoline prices are coming down,” US President Donald Trump promised in remarks to reporters at the White House. “I called up OPEC and said you’ve gotta bring ’em down.”

Prices spiked earlier in the week on an announcement that the US was ready to sanction any country that buys any amount of oil from Iran – a threat that the Trump administration backed away from last November. Waivers were granted to big buyers of Iranian oil, including China, India and Japan.

But analysts say that the US getting anywhere close its stated goal of reducing Iranian crude exports to zero are slim to none, and the impact of other events weighing on the price – such as political risk in Libya and Venezuela – have been overstated.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the effort to forbid all nations from buying Iranian oil was intended “to deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilize the Middle East for four decades and incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country.”

A White House statement said that Saudi Arabia had agreed to “take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market.”

Following the announcement, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih issued a vague statement that the kingdom would work to keep prices stable.

“In the next few weeks, the kingdom will be consulting closely with other producing countries and key oil consuming nations to ensure a well-balanced and stable oil market,” Al-Falih said, per Bloomberg.

China, the largest importer of Iranian oil, called the unilateral imposition of sanctions “illegal,” while Russia said the action was reckless.

“The rest of the world perfectly understands that Washington’s policy is becoming more and more aggressive and reckless,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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