Japan

U.S. to exempt Japan from Iran oil sanctions

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The United States plans to temporarily exempt Japan from its ban on Iranian oil imports after Washington reimposes sanctions against Tehran on Monday, a Japan-U.S. diplomatic source said Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Friday the United States will grant eight jurisdictions waivers to the U.S.-led campaign against Iran, but did not name them. Pompeo said he will announce them on Monday.

Separately, President Donald Trump said incoming sanctions — which will target Tehran's finance and energy sectors — are "serious," and that "Iran is taking a very big hit."

Speaking in a conference call, Pompeo said, "We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves toward getting to zero crude oil importation."

Quoting a senior U.S. administration official, Bloomberg News reported that the eight parties include Japan, India and South Korea.

Japan has been among the nations seeking waivers on the U.S.-led ban. Tehran accounts for 5 percent of Tokyo's total crude oil imports.

Pompeo said two of the jurisdictions, which he did not identify, will wind down Iranian oil imports to zero in "weeks." Six others will import "at greatly reduced levels," he said.

Quoting two people familiar with the situation, Bloomberg said China is still in discussions with the United States on terms, but is among the eight.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the call that the United States has advised SWIFT, the global messaging network that connects the world's financial institutions, to discontinue its service for the Iranian financial institutions Washington plans to blacklist on Monday.

Mnuchin warned that SWIFT will be subject to U.S. sanctions if it provides financial messaging services to designated Iranian financial institutions.

"We've engaged a massive economic pressure campaign against Iran, which remains the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism," he said. "We are intent on ensuring that global funds stop flowing to the coffers of the Iranian regime."

Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal in May and began reimposing sanctions on the Islamic republic in August.

Under the deal struck between Iran and six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

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