Washington can identify the buyers, sellers, traders, shippers, insurers and financial institutions involved in Iranian oil purchases because all foreign transactions in United States dollars are cleared by the Federal Reserve.
Saudi Arabia also backed Trump's decision on his country withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Resulting rising oil prices would have a mixed impact across the region, driving prices higher for some countries that rely heavily on imports, such as Japan, while boosting revenues for exporters such as Indonesia.
Oil prices rose more than two per cent on Wednesday, with Brent hitting a 3-1/2-year high, after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned a nuclear deal with Iran and announced the "highest level" of sanctions against the OPEC member. The benchmark contract was up $1.80 a barrel, or 2.4 percent, at $76.65 by 1240 GMT.
US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Washington withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal as it provides Iran with possibilities of creating a nuclear bomb bypassing all now in force restrictions under the agreement and added that another deal should be signed with Iran.
A drop in Iranian exports due to a return of USA sanctions, plus involuntary supply losses in other OPEC members such as Venezuela would mean the supply cut would be significantly larger than intended. "I think they would as quickly as possible try to implement the sanctions".
Trump is expected to announce that he will allow sanctions to go forward on Iran, a first step toward withdrawing from the nuclear deal, according to a USA official and a person familiar with the plan.
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United States crude settled at $70.73 per barrel.
For quite some time, the oil price has been active now after a number of initiatives taken by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and others to keep prices at a competitive level. But it's the Iran question that's driving short-term trading, experts say.
Under the financial sanctions, European companies will have 90 to 180 days to wind down their operations in Iran, or they will run afoul of the American banking system.
Energy analysts expect other major customers of Iran - including close U.S. allies Japan and South Korea - to adhere more closely to new sanctions.
The flood of supply came at precisely the wrong time for the oil market: excess supply was already depressing prices at the time.
Oil prices rose on May 10, heading for their largest weekly increase in a month, as the market prepared for potential disruption to crude flows from major exporter Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions.