Brian Hook, the State Department's director of policy planning, told a news conference that the US goal was to get as many countries as possible down to zero Iranian oil imports. But some key countries, including India and Turkey, have already said they will not do so.

"We will not hesitate to take action when we see sanctionable activity", said Brian Hook, the department's Policy Planning Director and the former lead negotiator for the USA who met with European allies for months to reach a side agreement that kept the the Iran nuclear deal but addressed Trump's concerns with it.

In the face of the damage that did to U.S.

Meanwhile, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh sent a letter to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) asking its members to adhere to the group's agreement reached last month to collectively raise output and "refrain from any unilateral measures" that could undermine the unity of the producer group. This week, he and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker will travel to Gulf countries to begin talks there.

Some 50 worldwide companies had announced their intention to leave the Iranian market, particularly in energy and financial sectors, as the United States moved to reimpose the sanctions against Iran, Hook said.

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"The pace of decline at drawdowns of USA inventories is startling", said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in NY. "They should be preparing now to go to zero".

The United States exited from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and said it would reimpose economic sanctions on the Islamic republic and its business partners by 4 November.

Oil prices fell early on Monday, following comments from the White House that the leader of Saudi Arabia promised President Donald Trump that he can raise oil production if needed.

The collapsing economy has sparked new protests in Iran, with gunfire erupting Sunday morning as Iranian security forces confronted protesters demonstrating over water scarcity in the country's south.

Last week, US State Department officials announced that they are pushing nations to bring down purchases of Iranian oil to zero.

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The US strategy is based on increasing economic pressure on Iran and is aimed at "a change in the behaviour of the Iranian leadership of Iran, and not regime change", Mr Hook said.

Oil prices rose strongly last week, with the United States crude contract hitting its highest in 3-1/2 years at $74.46.

"There seems to be great uncertainty about how much oil will be added to the supply side of the market", said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, referring to how much Saudi Arabia's spare capacity will be able to offset shortages around the world.

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his golf property in New Jersey, said in a tweet on Saturday that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had agreed to produce more oil. The Saudis have not confirmed if that's the case.

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