Obama: Oil markets can handle expanded sanctions targeting Iran

Reuters, citing congressional aides, reported Monday that the United States plans to exempt India, South Korea and five other countries from financial sanctions in return for cutting Iranian oil purchases. China, Iran’s top oil customer, will not be granted a waiver, according to Reuters.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, in a statement, expanded on the White House finding that the oil markets can handle more efforts to curb exports from Iran.

“Although production disruptions continue to remove some oil from the market and the international response to concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities has increased demand for non-Iranian crude oil, production increases in other countries and weaker demand growth overall have mitigated oil market tightness to a degree,” he said.

Carney also noted that “many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have already significantly reduced their purchases or announced they are in productive discussions with alternative suppliers.”

Obama’s memo notes that, when making the determination, he weighed information in a report to Congress from the federal Energy Information Administration as well as “other relevant factors, including global economic conditions, increased oil production by certain countries, the level of spare capacity, and the availability of strategic reserves.”