Below is a list of the 12 countries that buy Iranian oil and could be subject to U.S. sanctions unless they significantly cut purchases, a U.S. State Department official said on Wednesday.
The department released the number of countries - but not their names - on Tuesday after saying the United States would grant exemptions to the sanctions to Japan and 10 European Union nations that have cut shipments of Iranian oil.
Countries that won the exemptions have a six-month reprieve from the threat of being cut off from the U.S. financial system under sanctions designed to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, which the West suspects is intended to produce weapons.
Iran says that its program is solely to generate power.
A government source who is not in the State Department earlier gave Reuters a list of 13 countries that did not get an exemption on Tuesday and could be subject to the sanctions.
That list included Morocco. The State Department official, however, said that its information was that Morocco last bought Iranian crude oil in June 2010 and therefore was not among the 12 that may face the sanctions.
However, he stressed that the assessment of which countries could be subject to the sanctions was a dynamic process and that other countries could be added, or dropped, as additional information becomes available.
The State Department official gave the following list of the 12 countries that remain potentially subject to sanctions. The group includes China and India, the top two importers of Iran's crude, and South Korea, the fourth-largest buyer.
Country: Rank in top buyers of Iranian crude
South Africa 9
South Korea 4
Sri Lanka NA
(NA indicates the country's ranking was not immediately available)
(Reporting By Timothy Gardner and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Beech)