US extends sanctions waivers for Japan, Europeans

September 14, 2012 - 5:35 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has exempted Japan and 10 European countries from U.S. economic sanctions because they have reduced significantly their purchases of petroleum from Iran.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton extended waivers granted earlier this year to Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Japan. That means banks there won't face penalties for another 180 days.

In a statement, she cited an EU ban on Iranian oil that started in July and said Japan cut imports amid "extraordinary energy challenges" after last year's Fukushima nuclear accident.

The U.S. sanctions aim to pressure Iran on its nuclear program. Iran says its program is peaceful; Western countries suspect it may be trying to develop nuclear weapons.