15:01, 29 June, 2012

Acting at the last minute, the Obama administration on Thursday spare
China and Singapore from potentially onerous financial penalties
required under a strict American law on Iran sanctions, saying that
both countries had earned an exemption by significantly reducing
their purchases of Iranian crude oil.

Armenpress reports calling The New York Times that Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the waivers for China and Singapore
in a statement as the American law, aimed at severely reducing Iran's
ability to export oil, its economic lifeline, formally took effect.

The law is part of a coordinated Western effort to pressure Iran
economically because of its disputed nuclear program The European
Union will impose an embargo on Iranian oil starting this Sunday.

The measures are sure to compound economic pain in Iran, where oil
exports this year compared with 2011 have plunged by 40 percent,
according to the International Energy Agency.

The American waiver granted to China, Iran's top customer of oil, was
regarded as especially significant because it averted a potentially
serious collision between China and the United States, which are both
members of the group of six big powers that are negotiating with Iran
in the nuclear dispute. Under the American law, banks of countries
that are Iranian oil importers can be denied access to the American
banking system.

Eighteen countries had previously been granted exemptions because
they had significantly reduced their Iranian oil purchases.