South Korea on Sunday rejected reports that it had stopped importing oil and condensate from Iran.
Iran’s media quoted an announcement by South Korea’s Embassy in Tehran as saying that imports from the Islamic Republic still continued.
On Friday, Reuters reported that Seoul was no longer lifting Iran’s oil and condensate as it was trying to obtain an exemption from US curbs on buying Iranian oil.
Reuters in a report quoted familiar sources as saying that South Korea would not lift any Iranian crude and condensate in July for the first time over the past six years.
The move came as Seoul started negotiations with Washington to seek authorizations over buying Iranian oil, in line with a waiver it received during previous sanctions, the report added. “There was pressure from the South Korean government to halt purchases,” Reuters quoted an unnamed source familiar with Iranian shipping arrangements as saying. “South Korea overall is lifting zero oil (from Iran) for July loading.”
Two other sources said South Korea cancelled July loadings of crude and condensate cargoes from Iran as it was uncertain whether the country would receive an exemption from US sanctions on Iran trade.
"The embassy of the Republic of Korea denies any claims that it would not lift any Iranian crude and condensate in July," the South Korean Embassy responded to the report.
"The Korean government is negotiating with the United States to get exemptions from the restrictions on Iranian oil purchases," it said.
South Korea has bought nearly 296,000 barrels of oil from Iran in the first five months of the Iranian calendar year (starting on March 21), and is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China and India, according to media reports.