Tuesday, 11 December 2012
U.S. extends waivers on Iran sanctions to China and India
President Barack Obama's administration has now renewed waivers for all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers, after granting them to Japan and 10 European Union countries in September. The action was the second renewal for all 20 after Obama signed the sanctions into law a year ago.
The sanctions aim to choke funding to Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is enriching uranium to levels that could be used in weapons. Tehran says the program is for civilian purposes.
"The United States and the international community remain committed to maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime until it fully addresses concerns about its nuclear program," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. Clinton also granted waivers, known as "exceptions," on to South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
Under the sanctions law, banks in countries that buy oil from Iran can be cut off from the U.S. financial system unless their purchases decline.
Iran's oil exports have fallen 50 percent this year in the face of U.S. sanctions and a EU embargo that began on July 1. That has cost Iran up to $5 billion a month and led to a plunge in Iran's currency, the rial.
Critics of the U.S. sanctions say they will not rein in Iran's nuclear program unless they are accompanied by adequate diplomacy.