SINGAPORE: The United States will “very soon” announce a new list of countries including India that will receive waivers to financial sanctions on oil trade with Iran, a US official said on Thursday.
The latest round of US sanctions come into effect on June 28 and aim to cut Iran’s oil revenue to pressure Tehran into halting its nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing nuclear arms.
The US can exempt countries from sanctions if they make significant reductions to crude imports, and granted a waiver to Japan and 10 European countries in March.
The official declined to give more details on which countries would join the exemptions list, but said the US and South Korea had made progress in talks.
Around two thirds of Iran’s crude exports flow to Asia, where the biggest buyers are China, Japan, India and South Korea and Pakistan in a list which names 12 countries.
The US aims to impose sanctions on those countries who are importing fuel from Iran. They, however, may be subject to an exemption if they reduce imports ‘substantially’.
Visiting India in March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also leaned on the country to cut its imports of Iranian oil further, and said Washington may not make a decision on whether to exempt New Delhi from financial sanctions for another two months.
She said the United States was encouraged by the steps its ally had taken to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil, but that ‘even more’ was needed. New Delhi does not want to be seen to be caving in to US pressure and also has to satisfy the fast-growing energy demands of its economy, Asia’s third-largest, and look after its own strategic interests: Iran provides it with access to Afghanistan.
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