The US exempted China from penalties for doing business with Iran on Thursday as the latest set of sanctions took effect, The Wall Street Journal reported. The State Department determined that China met the requirements for the six-month exemption because its purchases of Iranian crude fell about 25% in the first five months of the year. The US had previously exempted 19 other countries, leaving out only China, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil. China's reduction in Iranian oil imports was due largely to a pricing dispute, rather than compliance with US sanctions; in May, Chinese imports of Iranian oil jumped 39% month-on-month as the dispute was resolved. China opposes the sanctions, which bar companies that deal with Iran's central bank from doing business in the US.