Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday India, China and Japan are among eight countries temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil as they showed "significant reduction" in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country over the past “six months” after the US reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran.
"We have decided to issue temporary allotments to a handful of countries responsible to specific circumstances and to ensure a well-supplied oil market. The US will be granting these exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey," Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
Two of those eight have already completely ended imports of Iranian crude and will not resume as long as the sanctions regime remains in place, he added. "We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero," he said.
On Friday, Pompeo had said the US would temporarily allow the eight countries to continue buying Iranian oil even after enforcing its sanctions on Tehran. However, he didn’t mentions India’s name.
The US had previously wanted countries, including India, to completely stop oil purchases from Iran by November 4 when its full sanctions against Tehran come into force.
India, which is the second biggest purchaser of Iranian oil after China, was willing to restrict its monthly purchase to 1.25 million tonnes or 15 million tonnes in a year (300,000 barrels per day), down from 22.6 million tonnes (452,000 barrels per day) bought in 2017-18 financial year, sources in New Delhi said.
In May, Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 landmark nuclear the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) terming it as disastrous".
Under the Obama-era deal, involving five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, Iran agreed to stop its nuclear programme in exchange of relief from economic sanctions.
After the US' withdrawal from the deal, Trump signed fresh sanctions against Iran and warned countries against any cooperation with Tehran on its controversial nuclear weapons programme.
Speaking with the reporters at the White House on Friday before leaving on a campaign trail, Trump said Iran was not the same country which it was when he started almost two years ago.
"Iran is a much different country since I terminated that deal. That was one of the most ridiculous deals ever made by any country, at any time: the Iran nuclear deal," he said.
"They're very serious sanctions. They're very big. They'll be elevated from there. But, as you know, sanctions are starting on Iran and, Iran is taking a very big hit," he added.
More than 20 importing nations have zeroed out their imports of crude oil already, taking more than 1 million barrels of crude per day off the market. The Iranian regime to date since May has lost over $2.5 billion in oil revenue, he said.
Additionally, today, 100 per cent of the revenue Iran receives from the sale of oil will be held in foreign accounts. Iran can only use this money for humanitarian trade or bilateral non-sanctioned goods, he asserted. The US on Monday imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour".
The sanctions cover Iran's banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.
(With agency inputs)