The United States granted exemption from Iran sanctions to 10 European countries and Japan on Friday because all of them have significantly reduced or halted oil imports from the Islamic Republic.
Japan continues to import oil from Iran but all EU countries halted them a year ago. The US State Department said that the 10 European countries who qualify for six-month exemptions are: Belgium,the Czech Republic,France,Germany,Greece,Italy,Netherlands,Poland,Spain and Britain.
American sanctions are designed to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear programme,which Washington suspects is aimed at producing weapons. Iran has repeatedly insisted it is only for generating electricity and medical research.
But the Obama administration has been granting exemptions to a number of mostly Asian countries that rely on Iranian oil on condition that they significantly reduce their imports over time.
China remains Irans top trading partner and its No. 1 client for oil exports,with Japan,India and South Korea among other top purchasers.
The news of the European exemptions came as successful legal challenges to European sanctions on Iran mounted.
An EU court said it would throw out penalties imposed on eight Iranian banks and businesses for their alleged ties to Irans nuclear programme because there wasnt sufficient evidence to justify the sanctions imposed by the bloc. The US was disappointed with the ruling.