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US exempts Japan and EU countries from Iranian oil sanctions

Last week, the State Department granted Japan and ten European Union countries exemptions from the international sanctions on Iranian oil.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom all qualified for exemptions by reducing the volume of their Iranian crude oil purchases.

“As of July 1, the European Union implemented a full ban on Iranian crude oil and petroleum products, strengthening the comprehensive measures it has taken to hold Iran accountable for its failure to comply with its international nuclear obligations,” Clinton said on Friday.

“Japan has also taken significant steps to reduce its crude oil purchases, which is especially notable considering the extraordinary energy challenges it has faced in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster,” she added.

“Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions are a threat to the peace and the national security of the United States and our allies,” Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the authors of this section of the bill, wrote in a letter to Clinton.

The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama last year, allows the State and Treasury Departments to grant renewable 180 day exemptions to countries that significantly reduce Iranian oil imports. “Significant” is not defined in the original bill.

However, Kirk and Menendez defined “significant reduction” to mean “a minimum of 18% in purchase reduction whether achieved through price discounts or volume reductions and oriented toward a complete cessation of such purchases.”

“Countering Iran demands nothing less than full compliance with U.S. sanctions law, if there is any hope of deterring Iran from its nuclear ambition.”

The combined U.S. and European sanctions have already made a dent in Iranian oil production and caused the country to nearly halve its oil exports, and the Iranian currency, the rial, has also fallen 50 percent, according to Kirk and Menendez.

Their Senate offices did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comments.

The United States has also granted waivers to South Korea and India on June 11, as well as to China on June 28. These renewals are set for December.

According to Reuters, Japan, China, South Korea and India – Asia’s top four buyers of Iranian oil – have cut iranian oil imports by a fifth in the first seven months of the year compared to last year earlier, with Japan reducing Iranian imports by 39 percent.

These renewed exceptions result from our extensive cooperation with the international community since the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, reducing Iran’s oil revenues and isolating its Central Bank from the international financial system,” Clinton continued.

“We have brought significant pressure to bear on the Iranian regime, and we will continue to work with our partners to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations,” she concluded.

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