After the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last year, the United States began to tighten its sanctions on the country. The measures, although not adopted by all nations, allow the United States to punish companies and countries that engage in trade with Iran. Some countries were initially granted waivers under the sanctions, but many have stopped buying oil from Iran to avoid the risk of being punished by the United States. As a result, Irans exports have plummeted.
In the past year, the United States has imposed new sanctions on Iran meant to cripple the country over its nuclear program. Some of the measures have targeted the country’s oil exports, long the lifeblood of its economy. Iran, in defiance, has said it would begin to enrich uranium at higher levels as soon as Sunday. If tensions persist, disruptions along the strait, where the shipping channel is barely two miles wide, could be felt in India, China and dozens of other countries that buy Middle Eastern oil in large quantities.