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The sanctions also cover 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 people and vessels in its shipping sector, Tehran's national airline, Iran Air, and more than 65 of its aircraft, a U.S. Treasury statement said. Iran is its third-largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10% of total needs. "We believe that China's normal cooperation (with Iran) within worldwide law is legal and legitimate, and this shall be respected".

The US on Monday imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour", even as the Trump administration dodged a question whether it has got firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Tehran within six months.

Iran's crude exports have fallen significantly from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before Trump in May withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions, although estimates vary.

Hedge fund managers were net sellers of petroleum-linked futures and options for a fifth week running last week as concerns about sanctions on Iran evaporated and investors refocused on economic worries. He said he had discussed the list with other officials, with many saying it was "less than what we expected".

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has said that the USA move raised economic and security risk internationally and that the European Union would work to realize the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Iran.

"More than 20 importing nations have zeroed out their imports of crude oil already, taking more than 1 million barrels of crude per day off the market", U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in a briefing. "I don't want to lift oil prices".

Ambassador Seyed M. Kazem Sajjadpour said in London on Tuesday that the United States has the "very simple naive" view that Iran will wilt under the pressure.

The new sanctions particularly hurt Iran's vital oil industry, which provides a crucial source of hard currency. Watch the efforts that President Trump's policies have achieved.

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"These sanctions have already had an enormous impact".

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif took to Twitter to mock some of the targets of the sanctions, describing it as a "desperate" psychological ploy.

The list also includes Tat Bank, which was dissolved in 2012 over lack of transparency and financial charges.

The United States today exempted eight countries, including India from the USA sanctions for buying Iranian oil.

However, the Trump administration allowed some of its allies - Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey - as well as rival China to continue to purchase Iranian oil as long as they work to reduce imports to zero.

House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said, "Rather than achieving its stated goal of eliminating Iran's oil exports altogether, the administration has issued "exemptions" for major Iranian oil importers, allowing Iran to earn billions of dollars from oil sale".

Oil prices rallied above $85 per barrel in October on fears of a steep decline in Iranian exports.