Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the exemptions for China and Singapore on Washington’s embargos on Iran crude, citing their “significantly” reduced oil purchases from the Islamic Republic.
The US has exempted China and Singapore from complying with Washington’s unilateral sanctions on oil trade with Tehran, citing their significant cut in crude imports from Iran.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the exemptions for China and Singapore in a statement on Thursday, citing their “significantly” reduced oil purchases from Iran, the Associated Press reported.
She said that the two countries received a six-month exception to continue buying Iranian crude at lower levels. The waivers are renewable.
"A total of 20 world economies have now qualified for such an exception," Clinton said in the statement.
The exemptions for the two Asian countries come hours before the US sanctions on purchases of oil from Iran go into effect.
The US administration in late March approved sanctions on Iranian crude oil sector, which penalize other countries for buying or selling Iranian crude oil. The sanctions were scheduled to take effect on June 28.
Under the law signed by US President Barack Obama late last year, the administration can, however, exempt countries from sanctions if they significantly cut crude imports from Iran.
The EU also agreed on January 23 to ban oil and petroleum products imports from Iran. The sanctions take effect as of July 1.
The sanctions by the US and EU aim to put pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear energy program, which Washington, Israel and some of their allies claim may include a military aspect.
Iran dismisses allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Iran has time and again downplayed the effect of the sanctions on the country’s economy.
Sanctions against Iran's oil sector have failed and will not block the progress and development of the industry,” Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi said in April.
“Today, [Iran’s] adversaries consider the restrictions on Iran's oil industry as ‘tough sanctions,’ but based on domestic capabilities, I confidently say that the oil industry has bade farewell to the embargoes,” he added.
Iran has also said that the embargos will adversely affect those countries that have imposed them as well as other economies.
“In the past and before the oil sanctions against Iran, we warned the countries imposing them that they themselves will be harmed by the embargoes, and, unfortunately, now the European people are living under pressure,” Qassemi said earlier this month.