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April 23, 2019

*-- White House moves to cut off Iranian oil exports --*

The White House said Monday it won't allow other nations to buy oil from Iran, in an effort to kill a critically important revenue stream for Tehran -- a move that could remove one million barrels of oil from the market, each day.

The U.S. administration last fall granted 180-day waivers to some countries -- including Greece, Italy and Taiwan -- if they took steps to end buying Iranian oil. Monday, the White House said the waivers would not be extended.

"This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the White House said. "The United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the world's great energy producers, along with our friends and allies, are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied."

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang criticized the move Monday and said China's imports from Iran have been conducted legally.

"China has always opposed the U.S. imposition of so-called 'unilateral sanctions' and 'long-arm jurisdiction,'" Geng said. He said its oil imports were "reasonable and legitimate, which thus deserves respect."

The U.S. decision is part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. The decision follows another move against Tehran last week in which the United States designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, which came with economic sanctions.

The Trump administration has taken a tough stance against Iran, due to what it says have been destabilizing and terror-sponsoring moves by Tehran. President Donald Trump last year moved to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal that traded lifting sanctions for promises by Tehran not to develop nuclear weapons.