S. Korea set to win waiver from U.S. sanctions against Iran
(Yonhap) -- South Korea is set to secure a waiver from new U.S. financial sanctions against Iran after significantly cutting its imports of Iranian crude oil this year, a senior Seoul official said Wednesday.
South Korea has been in talks with the U.S. to be exempted from the U.S.-led financial sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear ambitions. The U.S. exempted 11 nations, including Japan and some European nations, in March from the sanctions, but South Korea was excluded from the list.
"Consultations with the U.S. government have been going well and our government expects the U.S. to announce its decision to grant a waiver to South Korea within this week," the foreign ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
Talks of the expected U.S. decision came after South Korea reduced its imports of Iranian crude by some 30 percent on year in the first three months of 2012, the official said.
Under the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, nations have until June 28 to show they have significantly cut their imports of crude oil from Iran or face the sanctions.
South Korea has expressed support for the U.S. decision to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, while trying to minimize its own economic fallout. Iranian crude oil accounts for some 10 percent of South Korea's total crude imports.
Separately, South Korea has been in talks with the European Union to get an exemption from a reinsurance embargo for oil tankers carrying Iranian crude and passing through the Persian Gulf.
The embargo, set to go into force from July 1, will effectively ban most South Korean oil refiners from importing crude oil from Iran.
The official said, however, that talks with the EU have been "difficult" and, "considering the progress made until now, we think it would not be easy to secure a waiver from the reinsurance embargo.
EU foreign ministers will hold a meeting in mid-June and South Korea "will make a final pitch until the meeting to extend the reinsurance service by two months," the official said.