US President Barack Obama has vowed to go ahead with tough sanctions on Iran , saying there was enough oil in the world market to allow countries like China and India to significantly reduce their dependence on Iranian imports.
"I will closely monitor this situation to assure that the market can continue to accommodate a reduction in purchases of petroleum and petroleum products from Iran," Obama said in his presidential determination.
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"I determine...that there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions," Obama said.
Such a determination - as mandated by a Congressional legislation - is primarily aimed at slashing Iran's oil revenue so as to force it to abandon its nuclear ambition.
Twelve countries, including India, China, Turkey and South Korea, have time till the end of June to show that they have significantly reduced their dependence on Iranian oil.
The US has already exempted 11 countries from these sanctions and more countries could be exempted soon.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, said that there currently appears to be sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their import of Iranian oil.
A senior administration official later told reporters in a conference call that the President signed the determination after evaluating all the relevant facts and data, and determined that he would go forward with those sanctions of oil-related transactions.
"I'd also note we've been in a steady and consistent dialogue with all of our international partners on this issue over the course of the last several months as a part of our concerted effort to implement these sanctions in a responsible way that effectively targets the Iranian government while mitigating other effects."
"And to that end, we have issued exemptions for a number of countries that have cooperated with us in reducing their purchases and reliance on Iranian crude oil - notably the exemptions issued by the Secretary of State for the European Union and Japan within the last two weeks," the official said.
Another Senior Administration official said the Obama Administration is working with both India and China on to reduce their dependence on Iranian oil.
"I think India and China are two countries that we continue to have a dialogue with about their ability to reduce reliance on Iranian oil," the official said in response to a question.
"I would note that while we continue to pursue reductions, what we also have not seen is, for instance, backfilling by the Chinese, whereby they make up the difference in Iranian oil that has come off the market in other places by increasing their economic relationship with Iran. So that cooperation has been -- in terms of maintaining a baseline of pressure -- very important," the official said.
He said the EU oil embargo is going to be critically important in building up the pressure on the Iranian government.
"So at the same time that these sanctions come into force June 28th is roughly concurrent to one that the EU oil embargo is going to come into force. And at that point, we really do believe that Iran will face a degree of pressure that is above and beyond anything that it has ever experienced before with regard to sanctions," the official said.
"So the impact is great. It's increasing, particularly with the EU oil embargo and these sanctions coming into force.
We will continue to talk to the Indians, the Chinese and other countries about tightening that squeeze on the Iranian government," the official said.