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U.S. Extends Iran-Oil Sanctions Exceptions for Nine Nations

The State Department announced that nine oil-importing nations will continue to be exempted from U.S. sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear program.

The decision by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton covers China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan, the State Department said today in an e-mailed statement.

A December 2011 law cuts off from the U.S. banking system any foreign financial institutions that handle oil trade with Iran if their home country hasn’t earned an exception from sanctions by significantly reducing imports of Iranian oil. The exceptions are subject to review every six months.

Iran’s oil production fell by 1 million barrels per day in September and October, compared with the same period last year, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report cited by the State Department.

Iran’s oil output, formerly the second-largest in OPEC, has dropped to fifth among the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies.

“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,” Clinton said in the statement.

Twenty countries and economies “have continued to significantly reduce the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran,” Clinton said. “This has reduced Iran’s export volumes and oil revenues, which fund not only the nuclear program but its support for terror and destabilizing actions in the region.”

Clinton said the message for Iran is that it must meet its international obligations on its nuclear program “or face increasing isolation and pressure.”

The U.S., European Union and Israel say Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy and medical research.

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