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U.S. Sanctions More Firms For Iran Trade, Japan To Cut Iran Oil Imports

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (left) shakes hands with Japan's Finance Minister Jun Azumi during a joint news conference at the Finance Ministry in Tokyo on January 12.
The United States has imposed sanctions on three overseas based energy companies for dealing with Iran.

The firms include China's state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Company, Singapore's Kuo Oil Pte. Ltd. and FAL Oil Company Limited, which is based in the United Arab Emirates.

Under the sanctions announced on January 12, all three companies are “barred from receiving U.S. export licenses, U.S. Export Import Bank financing, and loans over $10 million from U.S. financial institutions."

In related news, Japan has announced it will reduce its imports of Iranian crude oil to comply with new U.S. sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Japan depends on Iran for some 10 percent of its oil imports.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi, speaking on January 12 at a joint news conference with visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, maintained that the imports would be reduced gradually.

"Nuclear development is something that the world cannot shut its eyes to, so we understand the United States' position," he said. "As for the remaining 10-percent share [of crude oil imports from Iran], we plan to gradually reduce that in a concrete manner."

In Ankara, however, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman (Selcuk Unal) indicated that his country would only enforce sanctions that have been approved by the United Nations.

He made the comments after talks between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Iran's parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani.

Meanwhile, EU diplomats told Reuters that an agreement was emerging that EU oil imports from Iran should be banned after six months while a ban on petrochemical products would start after three months -- similar to provisions in U.S. legislation.

compiled from agency reports