The United States on Thursday exempted China and Singapore from sanctions over purchases of oil from Iran, hours before restrictions would have entered into force against their banks.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that China and Singapore had “significantly reduced” their crude oil purchases from Iran, joining most major economies in receiving exemptions from the new U.S. law.
Under a law aimed at pressing Iran over its nuclear program, the United States after Thursday will impose sanctions on financial institutions of countries that deal with Iran's central bank, which handles the country's main export.
Clinton credited the threat of sanctions with severely cutting Iran’s crude oil exports and estimated that it cost the country some $8 billion in lost revenue each quarter.
“Their cumulative actions are a clear demonstration to Iran’s government that Iran's continued violation of its international nuclear obligations carries an enormous economic cost,” she said in a statement.
Clinton exempted members of the European Union and Japan in March and on June 11 made the same exceptions for India, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan.
But the United States waited until the last minute to exempt China and Singapore, with U.S. officials holding weeks of talks with the two Asian nations on the issue.
Israel and some Western officials fear that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The clerical regime insists that its sensitive nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.
“I urge Iran to demonstrate its willingness to take concrete steps toward resolving the nuclear issue during the expert-level talks scheduled in Istanbul” on Tuesday, Clinton said in the statement.
“Failure to do so will result in continuing pressure and isolation from the international community,” she said.