United States exempted India and eight other countries from sanctions for importing oil from Iran on Thursday, noting that these countries have significantly reduced their dependence on Iranian oil in the last six months.
US secretary of state John Kerry said that India, China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan have qualified for an exception to sanctions under America's Iran Sanctions Act, based on additional significant reductions in the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran or for reducing those purchases to zero and remaining there.
United States and the international community stand shoulder to shoulder in maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime until it fully addresses concerns about its nuclear program, Kerry said in a statement.
"Today's determination is another example of the international community's strong and steady commitment to convince Iran to meet its international obligations," Kerry said.
"This determination takes place against the backdrop of other recent actions the administration has taken to increase pressure on Iran, including the issuance of a new executive order on June 3. The message to the Iranian regime from the international community is clear: take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, or face increasing isolation and pressure," Kerry said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that it appears that there is sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian oil.
"In this context, it is notable that many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have reduced or ceased altogether their purchases from Iran," he said.
However, he noted that global oil consumption has exceeded production in recent months.
"The international response to concerns about Iran's nuclear activities has increased demand for non-Iranian crude. However, rising production from other countries, greater spare production capacity, economic developments, and smaller inventory draws in March and April 2013 indicate a looser international crude market," Carney said.
The Obama administration has introduced a series of measures over the past week to step up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington suspects is aimed at making weapons but Iran insists is for generating electricity and medical research.
Washington hopes the pressure will force Iran to come clean on its nuclear activity so that the US and its allies can avoid any military intervention to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining an atomic arsenal.
Despite plummeting sales overseas, Iran remains one of the world's largest oil producers. Its exports bring in tens of billions of dollars in revenue for the country.