U.S. clears China, Singapore on sanctions after reductions in Iranian oil purchases


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration cleared China and Singapore of possible U.S. sanctions after determining that both countries have significantly reduced their oil purchases from Iran.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the determination that the sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 would not apply to the countries’ financial institutions for a renewable period of 180 days.

“Today marks an important milestone in the implementation of the NDAA and U.S. sanctions toward Iran,” Clinton said in a statement.

In December, Congress passed sanctions in the Defense Authorization Act that would impose penalties on countries that continued to do business with the Central Bank of Iran. The provision was added in the U.S. Senate as an amendment that was approved unanimously.

U.S. officials say that China has slashed its imports from Iran by a quarter since January, according to The Associated Press, while Singapore has promised to stop importing Iranian oil.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a lead author of the Senate amendment with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), said the waivers enacted by the Obama administration showed the “tremendous effectiveness” of U.S. sanctions against Iran. He urged China to further reduce its Iranian oil imports.

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