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U.S. exempts India, not China, from Iran sanctions

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Reuters


WASHINGTON -- The United States extended exemptions from its tough, new sanctions on Iran's oil trade to seven more economies on Monday, leaving China the last remaining major importer exposed to possible penalties at the end of the month.

In the latest sign Washington is working with other countries to pressure Iran's nuclear program, India, South Korea, Turkey and four more economies will receive waivers from financial sanctions in return for significantly cutting purchases of Iranian oil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

China, which alone buys as much as a fifth of Iran's crude exports, and Singapore, where much of the country's fuel oil is blended, did not receive such waivers, ramping up pressure on two important U.S. trade partners in Asia.

The sanctions, which the United States may impose starting on June 28, are Washington's most ambitious measures yet to strangle Iran's nuclear program by cutting funding from its oil export sales.

The United States and the European Union believe Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is strictly for civilian purposes.

Beyond the 27-country EU, which has banned Iranian imports from July under separate sanctions, other buyers of Iran's crude have pledged to cut purchases by up to a fifth.

"By reducing Iran's oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran's leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure," Clinton said in a release.

She is hosting high-level, previously scheduled talks with ministers from India and South Korea, Iran's second- and fourth-largest oil buyers, this week in Washington.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said his government "opposes unilateral sanctions imposed by one country on others". He added that China will push for a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue through negotiations.

South Africa, Taiwan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka will also be exempt from the sanctions, Clinton said. Japan and 10 EU countries had been granted exceptions in March.

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