SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean government and the country’s largest refiner SK Energy Co. said Iranian oil imports will be resumed next month.

South Korea got a six-month exception in June to US penalties for importing Iranian oil after Seoul reduced those imports. But South Korean refiners stopped Iranian imports in July after a European Union insurance ban. The companies had relied on EU companies to insure oil shipments.

Western sanctions against Iran are meant to derail Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. Critics say major Asian countries’ pursuit of Iranian oil hurts those efforts.

SK Energy spokesman Yoo Jung-min said oil imports are expected to resume in September. The company is discussing dates and details with Iranian firms and the government in Tehran.

Refiners say Iran may provide tankers and insurance.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.