I am pleased to announce that an initial group of eleven countries has significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran — Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. As a result, I will report to the Congress that sanctions pursuant to Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (NDAA) will not apply to the financial institutions based in these countries, for a renewable period of 180 days.
The actions taken by these countries were not easy. They had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil, which many had been reliant on for their energy needs. The ban on all new purchases of Iranian crude oil by the European Union countries as of January 23, and phase out of existing contracts by July 1, demonstrates their solidarity and their commitment to holding Iran accountable for its failure to comply with its international obligations. Japan’s significant reductions in crude oil purchases is also especially noteworthy considering the extraordinary energy and other challenges it has faced over the past year. We commend these countries for their actions and urge other nations that import oil from Iran to follow their example.
Only two months after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, we have made progress in shrinking Iran’s oil export markets, and isolating its Central Bank from the world financial system. The United States is leading an unprecedented international coalition of partners that has brought to bear significant pressure on the Iranian regime to change its course. Diplomacy coupled with strong pressure can achieve the long-term solutions we seek and we will continue to work with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations.