Clinton tells Congress 11 countries are reducing oil buys from Iran

120126055259-bts-clinton-out-of-politics-00002809-story-top Eleven countries, including Japan and European nations, have significantly reduced their Iran oil purchases and should not be subject to new U.S. sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress Tuesday.

The countries are Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, according to a State Department statement.

"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," said Clinton in the State Department statement.

"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."

There are 12 other countries purchasing oil from Iran that could face sanctions. A State Department official who briefed reporters on the announcement would not list the countries, but major importers of Iranian oil include China, India and South Korea.

Those countries could look at Japan as an example of how to ween off Iranian oil, said the State Department official. Japan has reduced its oil purchases from Iran by 15% to 22% in the last half of 2011, the official said.

The president needs to make a final decision by March 30 as to whether those other countries have or have not met the requirements to significantly reduce Iran oil purchases. If the president determines any countries have not, the countries' banks will face sanctions starting at the end of June.