UPDATE – US: Turkey among 8 nations given Iran sanctions waivers

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By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – Turkey is among eight nations granted temporary waivers from sanctions the U.S. reimposed Monday on Iran's oil sector.

China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were also granted exemptions that will allow them to continue importing Iranian crude oil. The exemptions are intended to ensure oil markets continue to be well-supplied, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The top diplomat said each country “has already demonstrated significant reductions of the purchase of Iranian crude over the past six months," adding two of the eight have reduced imports of Iranian crude to zero.

"We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero," he said.

Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin jointly announced the new economic penalties, which the Donald Trump administration claims are the "largest ever single-day action targeting" Iran.

In addition to Iran's oil sector the U.S. measures target the country's shipping, shipbuilding and banking sectors.

More than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels were blacklisted, including 50 Iranian banks and their domestic and foreign subsidiaries. In excess of 300 entities who were blacklisted are new designations. The others had sanctions that were lifted as part of a nuclear deal world powers struck with Iran reimposed.

"We are making it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior," Mnuchin told reporters. "We are watching the Iranian regime with laser focus. If they try to evade our sanctions, we will take actions to obstruct their activity time and time again."

Monday's action brings to more than 900 the number of Iranian entities sanctioned by the Trump administration in nearly two years.

Pompeo further said the U.S. has decided to grant "narrow and temporary waivers to permit the continuation of three nonproliferation projects currently underway."

"Allowing these activities to continue for the time being will improve ongoing oversight of Iran's civil nuclear program and make these facilities less susceptible to illicit and illegal nuclear uses," he said. "Rest assured, Iran will never come close to getting a nuclear weapon on president Trump's watch."

He did not specify all of the projects initially but later said the Bushehr nuclear power plant is one of those where work will continue to take place without immediate penalties on those involved.

Additional details are expected later Monday.

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