The Trump administration is moving ahead with a campaign they say is designed to force Tehran back to the negotiating table, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, with officials threatening this week to slap sanctions on China should they refuse to comply with US demands.
In response to a request from Washington that all countries cut oil imports from Iran to zero by a November deadline, Beijing said earlier this month that they would not reduce their purchases. Other countries, including Japan, South Korea and India, have been in talks with the administration to receive waivers in exchange for significantly cutting imports of Iranian crude.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the State Department has now explicitly said they are prepared to sanction China for its refusal to comply with the demands.
“The United States certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations in terms of not risking the threat of US secondary sanctions if they continue with those transactions,” Special representative and chief of the department’s Iran Action Group, Brian Hook, was quoted as saying in response to a question about China. “We are prepared to impose secondary sanctions on other governments that continue this sort of trade with Iran,” he added.
China imports more than one-quarter of Iran’s oil and senior US officials have said they expect Beijing to increase purchases as other countries reduce imports.
India, the second largest buyer of the country’s crude, is reportedly in talks to be granted a waiver from the zero-tolerance policy in exchange for cutting imports by 50%.