Iran's oil customers looking for exit door

June 6, 2013 at 6:47 AM

WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- Iran is finding itself more isolated from the international community as more countries start moving away from its energy sector, the U.S. government said.

The U.S. government this week increased sanctions pressure on Iran in response to growing concerns over its nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report this week there may be a military dimension to Iran's nuclear research.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said 20 countries so far have either eliminated purchases of Iranian crude oil completely or reduced the volume of imports significantly in response to sanctions pressure.

Kerry said the message to the Iranian government is that it can either address nuclear concerns or face increasing isolation.

"The United States and the international community stand shoulder to shoulder in maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime until it fully addresses concerns about its nuclear program," he said in a statement Wednesday.

Kerry said China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan have again qualified for an exception to sanctions targeting Iran because they've recorded "significant reductions" in the volume of crude oil purchased from Iran.

The sanctions waiver is renewable every 180 days.

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