US extends sanction waivers to decrease Iranian oil import

The Obama administration is set to extend waivers of US sanctions it has granted to major Asian petroleum consumers, including China, India and South Korea, for reducing their imports of Iranian oil, officials said.

Two officials said an announcement of the six-month extensions was expected from the State Department Friday.

In addition to China, India and South Korea, the waivers will apply to Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan. All the nine countries were originally granted six-month renewable exemptions from the sanctions in June.

The exemption means that banks and other financial institutions based in those places will not be hit by the penalties under US law enacted as a way of pressuring Iran to come clean about its nuclear programme.

A total of 20 countries and Taiwan have been granted the waivers. The others — Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Japan — will come up for review in March.

The administration says the exemptions are a sign that pressure on Iran is increasing.

In June, US officials said Iran's oil exports had declined from about 2.5 million barrels a day last year to between 1.2 million and 1.8 million barrels a day, choking a key source of revenue for the regime, which remains defiant over international demands that it prove that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

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