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3 parties cut oil imports from sanctions-hit Iran to zero: US

A general view of the Port of Kharg Island Oil Terminal in Iran on March 12, 2017. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- Three of eight parties granted waivers by the United States to import oil from Iran have now completely halted imports, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

The official did not identify the three. But Japan was one of seven countries and one territory that won temporary exemptions from the U.S. ban on Iranian oil imports when Washington reimposed sanctions against Tehran in November.

The seven other parties are China, India, South Korea, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey.

Including the three, the number of parties that once were purchasers of Iranian oil but have cut imports to zero has totaled 23, according to Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran.

"Because of our efforts, the regime now has less money to spend on its support of terrorism, missile proliferation, and on its long list of proxies," Hook said at a press briefing.

"With oil prices actually lower than they were when we announced our sanctions, and global oil and global production stable, we are on the fast track to zeroing out all purchases of Iranian crude," he said.

Hook declined to say whether the United States will extend the waivers after they expire on May 2. "There will be an announcement on that in due course," he said.

Reuters news agency quoted analysts as saying President Donald Trump's administration is likely to extend the waivers to the remaining five parties to placate top buyers China and India, and to decrease the chance of higher oil prices.

China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey are likely to be given waivers that could cap Iran's crude oil exports at about 1.1 million barrels a day, U.S.-based analysts at Eurasia Group said in January, according to Reuters.

That would remove Italy, Greece and Taiwan from the waivers list.

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