U.S. exempts three Iranian nuclear sites from sanctions

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In a major development, India has managed to keep Iran's Chabahar Port project outside the purview of the sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration on November 5.

"The US will be granting these exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey".

Pompeo said eight countries would be granted waivers from the sanctions as they had significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian crude over the past six months.

South Korea heavily depends on Iranian oil, .an official at the ministry said over half of the country's daily imports of condensate barrels previous year were from Iran. "We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero", said the Secretary of State.

In response to United States sanctions, Iran and its trade partners have been negotiating the reduction of the USA dollar's share in mutual trade.

Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran policy, said that the U.S. sanctions extended to insurers and underwriters.

The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of U.S. sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur.

Aparna Pande of Houston Institute think-tank said that to give an exemption to India's development of Chabahar port was a welcome decision that comes on the heels of the USA granting India - along with a few others - a waiver and temporarily allowing these countries to import oil in reduced quantities from Iran.

Chabahar and INSTC are important strategic projects for India and Afghanistan.

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The Chabahar Port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.

The spokesperson cited the strategy to say it "underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India".

"We are making it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior".

Adding that while the "exception" has been granted after much deliberation, the strategic importance of these projects can not be ignored.

"This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan", he said. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", the spokesman said.

This comes as a huge diplomatic victory for India.

As an extension to the same, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), is being hailed as a "game changer".

"Since its inauguration past year, we have shipped about 110 thousand metric tons of much-needed wheat and 2,000 metric tons of pulses from India to Afghanistan through this port", Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said at a conference in New Delhi Delhi last week.

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