In a statement issued Friday by the State Department, Kerry said the United States will "pause for six months our efforts to further reduce Iran's crude oil sales" but will "continue to vigorously implement our existing sanctions on Iran" as that country negotiates with the so-called P5-plus-1 -- the five members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- on ending economic sanctions in exchange for curtailing its nuclear development program.
"That is why I am pleased to announce that, based on additional significant reductions in the volume of their purchases of Iranian crude oil, China, India, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and Taiwan have again qualified for an exception to sanctions" provided for in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012.
Kerry said Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka have qualified again for the exception "because they no longer purchase crude oil from Iran."
He said he will advise Congress that exceptions to sanctions under the NDAA "will apply to the financial institutions based in these countries for a potentially renewable period of 180 days."
"The effectiveness of the international sanctions regime has proven essential in bringing Iran to the table to negotiate and agree to the Joint Action Plan that, for the first time in nearly a decade, halts the progress of the Iranian nuclear program and rolls it back in key areas," Kerry said.
Kerry's announcement came as the White House announced President Barack Obama has signed a determination that "there is sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran or through foreign financial institutions.
Obama earlier this week called King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to provide details of the agreement with Iran, reached last week in Geneva, Switzerland, the White House said in a statement.
"The two leaders agreed to consult regularly regarding the P5-plus-1's efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution that would resolve the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program," the statement said.