WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Friday that it would extend exemptions from sanctions to Japan and 10 European countries on account of their reduced purchase of Iranian crude oil.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would report to Congress that the exception to sanctions will apply to the financial institutions based in Japan, Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain for a renewable period of 180 days.
These countries first got the immunity in March from an American law adopted late last year to deny access to U.S. financial market foreign banks whose governments buy Iran's oil.
The law aimed to up pressure on the Islamic republic to force it to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which Washington and its allies suspect are part of the efforts to make nuclear weapons.
"We have brought significant pressure to bear on the Iranian regime, and we will continue to work with our partners to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations," Clinton said in a statement.
"The United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and has pursued a dual-track policy to do so," she added.
The governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted on Thursday a resolution expressing "serious concern" about Iran's nuclear program, including its continuing and expanding uranium enrichment activities.
The U.S. and Israel have been locking horns with each other over Iran these days, with Washington rejecting a "clear red line" over Iran's controversial nuclear plan as demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.