United States exempts three Iranian nuclear sites from sanctions

United States exempts three Iranian nuclear sites from sanctions

Early on Monday the U.S. imposed its "toughest ever" sanctions on Iran that it had earlier lifted after the signing of the nuclear agreement in July, 2015 between Tehran and Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the US.

The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of USA sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur. Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, said Washington aimed to bring Iranian oil exports to zero, but 180-day exemptions were granted to eight importers: China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey.

While Iran's exports have plunged by nearly 40 percent since April, the International Energy Agency says OPEC must still increase output to meet "robust" global demand growth.

"These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", the spokesman said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

"Countries, ports and canal operators and private firms should know they will be likely responsible for the costs of an accident involving a self-insured Iranian tanker".

The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nations southern coast is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 kms from Chabahar.

India has invested $500 million (approximately Rs 3,600 crore at current exchange rate) in the Chabahar project, which will connect the country with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

Iran has hit back at Trump's sanctions with President Hassan Rouhani vowing to "break" the sanctions imposed by the US.

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"We are making it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior".

"Trump administration made the right move by exempting India for the development of the Chabahar port", Jeff Smith of the Heritage Foundation told PTI.

Then there's the small matter of American production growing at the fastest rate in a century, just as fuel demand is at risk from the slowdown in emerging economies and the U.S.

"Combined with the importance, this administration places on developing good ties with India, there was a compelling geopolitical case to be made for a waiver", he said.

Japan leading crude oil wholesaler JXTG Holdings Incorporation says it is preparing to resume imports from Iran after the United States issued a waiver for Tokyo to continue its purchases of oil from the Islamic Republic.

Trump's decision has been opposed by European powers as well as other nations including India, which has largely warm relations with Iran. It understands India's national security interests.

"This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan", he said.

Rick Rossow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: "Chabahar's role to transport key logistics to Afghanistan will continue to grow over time".

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