Washington (AFP) - The United States will allow eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil but only at much lower levels after the reimposition of sanctions on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
The US Treasury will also demand the SWIFT global financial network stop servicing Iran's banking industry as part of enforcing sanctions over the country's nuclear program and alleged support for terrorism.
Another 700 companies, individuals, businesses, aircraft and ships will be added to the US sanctions list, widely expanding the people and entities Washington seeks to block from accessing global business and financial networks.
The reimposition of sanctions "is aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues it uses to spread death and destruction around the world," Pompeo said.
"Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country."
Pompeo said the exemptions on importing Iranian oil were being granted to countries that have pledged to or have already cut back on purchases of petroleum from Iran, which has long depended on crude exports to power its economy.
He did not name the eight countries, but they are believed to include India, Japan, South Korea, and possibly China.
Pompeo said the countries agreed that the payments for the oil will go into offshore accounts that Iran will only be able to tap for "humanitarian trade, or bilateral trade in non-sanctioned goods and services."
"Maximum pressure means maximum pressure," Pompeo said.
The move comes six months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal struck between world powers and Iran, and began reimposing sanctions that had been suspended or removed by his predecessor Barack Obama.
That process will culminate on Monday when Washington reinstates sanctions targeting Iran's oil, shipping, shipbuilding and banking industries.