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She added that while China may not cut Iranian oil imports, it did not indicate that it will increase imports either, raising the question of whether or not there will be 1 million barrels per day of Iranian oil take off the market by the end of this year and whether OPEC can make up for the shortfall.

Later in the year, on November 4, all countries must stop importing Iranian oil or they, themselves, will face financial punishment from Washington. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month his country was open to consider waivers for certain buyers of Iranian oil.

Iran acquired five new commercial aircraft on Sunday, a day before the USA begins restoring sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned the USA against any attempt to stop Tehran's oil trade, threatening to block the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.

China's stand of rejecting U.S.' demand is a blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic after his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Sporadic protests were taking place in cities in Iran for a fourth day, with demonstrators attacking a Shi'ite seminary west of Tehran, according to Iranian news agencies and social media on Saturday, as Iranians brace for a return of United States sanctions.

"At 9pm [15:30 GMT on Friday] they attacked the school and tried to break the doors down and burn things", the Fars News Agency quoted the head of the school in the town of Ishtehad, Hojatoleslam Hindiani, as saying.

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India, the second purchaser of Iranian crude, also increased its imports from Iran last month.

"There are rising concerns, all this time we have uncertainties on the Iran sanction and uncertainties over tariffs, as we certainly don't need any more trigger for a significant swing [in prices] in one way or another", said Jim Ritterbusch, an analyst in Galena, Illinois.

Iran wants guarantees from Europe to maintain banking cooperation and investments in Iran's oil fields as well as continuation of cooperation between Iranian and European small and medium-sized enterprises, Qasemi noted.

According to data compiled by the agency, China boosted its purchases of Iranian oil in July, snapping up more than a third of the country's total exports.

In January-July, India's oil imports from Iran rose by more than 17 percent to about 612,000 bpd, the data showed.

Reuters reported last week that India's oil industry is preparing for a blanket cut in Iranian imports, although officials from the two countries continue to hold talks on the issue.


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