WASHINGTON — The United States is granting an exemption to 10 European Union countries and Japan from enforcing economic sanctions because the countries have significantly reduced their purchases of petroleum from Iran.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday telephoned Sen. Bob Menendez to inform him of the decision. The New Jersey Democrat and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois co-authored the sanctions last year that targeted the Central Bank in Tehran and financial institutions that do business with it.
The penalties are designed to thwart Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.
Menendez issued a statement saying he supports Clinton's decision.
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