WASHINGTON/SEOUL‚ South Korea-The United States snapped sanctions back in place on November 5 to choke off Iran's oil and shipping industries, while temporarily allowing top customers such as China and India to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic.
China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey - all top importers of Iranian oil - are among eight countries expected to be given temporary exemptions from the sanctions to ensure crude oil prices are not destabilised.
The sanctions' goal is to cut off Iran's oil exports, which are reported to have already fallen by around a million barrels a day since May, and to cut it off from worldwide finance.
In a speech on state TV, Iranian President Hassan Rohani earlier said the country was facing a "war situation" and vowed that Iran will "proudly bypass" USA sanctions to sell oil.
"Iran's leaders must cease support for terrorism, stop proliferating ballistic missiles, end destructive regional activities, and abandon their nuclear ambitions immediately if they seek a path to sanctions relief", Mnuchin said.
This group of eight buyers imported over 80% of Iran's roughly 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil exports past year, Refiniv Eikon data shows.
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Iran has dismissed these charges and maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says new American sanctions are an "indiscriminate assault" on his country.
Japan and South Korea, close U.S. allies, had toed the Washington sanctions line and stopped buying crude from Iran.
House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said, "Rather than achieving its stated goal of eliminating Iran's oil exports altogether, the administration has issued "exemptions" for major Iranian oil importers, allowing Iran to earn billions of dollars from oil sale".
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has said that the USA move raised economic and security risk internationally and that the European Union would work to realize the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Iran. "The maximum pressure exerted by the United States is only going to mount from here".
That would be about half the daily average China has been importing from Iran since January 2016, trade data showed. United Nations monitors say Iran still abides by the deal, in which it agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.
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Both sources were not permitted to talk to the media about Iran sanctions and declined to be identified.
The wide-ranging exemptions have reduced fears of a supply shortage, taking pressure off companies, governments and economies around the world that have struggled with the surging cost of fuel.
The sanctions came into force on Monday. The price of benchmark Brent crude has dropped from over $80 a barrel in recent days. The exemptions are usually created to last up to 180 days.
Iran's oil exports rose sharply after the previous round of sanctions were lifted in early 2016.
Iran's exports peaked at 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, including 300,000 bpd of condensate, a lighter form of oil that when underground tends to exist as gas.
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