|U.S. exempts China from Iran sanctions despite increase in oil imports||
The United States has exempted China and Singapore from sanctions banning purchases of oil from Iran, despite the fact that China’s imports from Iran increased in May.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruled that China and Singapore had "significantly reduced" their crude oil purchases from Iran, granting them exemptions on the final day before sanctions take effect. Meanwhile, new figures show that China’s imports from Iran are actually at record highs this year.
Beijing imported almost 524,000 barrels per day in May, a 35 percent jump on the previous month, the BBC reported on June 22.
The rise comes despite the U.S. threatening countries that import oil from Iran with sanctions against their financial institutions.
Imports from Iran are core to Beijing's overall fuel imports. Beijing's has now even pushed for Iran to sell its excess oil, accumulated as a result of lost exports to Europe.
China is not the only country to bypass EU sanctions against Iran. Japan, a major buyer of Iranian crude, says it will provide insurance cover for Iranian tankers. China is offering to use its own vessels for delivery in a bid to circumvent EU crude sanctions.
Numerous countries initially voiced concern about the U.S. law. China and India had been among the most outspoken, initially protesting that their energy-hungry economies should not be beholden to U.S. domestic law.
But U.S. officials boasted that countries with vastly different relationships with the United States – from close ally Japan to sometime competitor China – all decided that it was best to cut imports from Iran.
Clinton exempted members of the European Union and Japan in March and on June 11 did the same for India, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan. The exemptions are for a renewable 180-day period.
The United States held extensive talks with China and Singapore as the deadline loomed.
But Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the Democratic administration, saying that China remained the single biggest purchaser of Iranian oil.
"The administration likes to pat itself on the back for supposedly being strong on Iran sanctions. But actions speak louder than words and the administration has granted a free pass to Iran's biggest enabler," said Ros-Lehtinen, a staunch critic of Beijing and Tehran.
A U.S. official said that the administration had exempted all "significant" buyers of Iranian oil. But Clinton has not made exceptions for smaller-scale importers such as Iran's neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The countries will not face sanctions as a whole, but their financial institutions will now be subject to bans in the United States if determined that they have dealt with Iran's central bank to arrange for the purchase of oil.
The United States gave China a six-month reprieve from the Iran financial sanctions on Thursday, avoiding a diplomatic spat with a country.
With Thursday's decision to grant exceptions to China, which buys up to a fifth of Iran's oil exports, and Singapore, which buys Iranian fuel oil, the Obama administration has now spared all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers from its unilateral sanctions.
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|Last Updated on 29 June 2012 17:29|