Since President Joe Biden took office, there have been increasing reports that China’s imports of Iranian oil have skyrocketed.
It appears that the new administration will seek to take considerable action on that particular issue, as it has told Beijing that it will enforce Trump-era sanctions against oil originating from Iran, a senior U.S. official told the Financial Times.
“We’ve told the Chinese that we will continue to enforce our sanctions,” the senior administration official was quoted as saying. “There will be no tacit green light.”
In 2019, the Donald Trump administration took action to impose sanctions on a Chinese state-run energy and several other tanker companies, accusing them of trading Iranian oil in violation of U.S. restrictions.
According to energy research firm Kpler, China imported on average roughly four hundred eighty thousand barrels of oil a day in February. That figure has been projected to reach one million barrels per day within this month. Energy analysts have noted that Iran has been offering steep discounts on its oil.
The official, however, indicated that sanctions could possibly be waived during talks to revive a multi-nation nuclear deal. Iran and the United States currently remain in a tense standoff, as both countries have indicated a desire to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was the Iranian nuclear deal that gave the Middle Eastern country economic relief from sanctions in return for limits to its burgeoning nuclear program.
The Biden administration has acknowledged that it won’t lift sanctions unless Tehran reverses its breaches of the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Iran has demanded that the United States lift its sanctions first before engaging in any further talks.
Iran would also like the United States to sign off on a deal that would return billions of dollars in frozen Iranian funds that are currently being held in South Korea.
“This is precisely the kind of issue we believe we should be discussing in the context of a mutual way back into compliance with the deal,” the official noted.
“Far better than us focusing on sanctions enforcement and China focusing on sanctions evasion would be to get on a more productive course, which is for the U.S. to lift sanctions and Iran to reverse its nuclear steps.”
Last week, a bipartisan group of a hundred forty representatives sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Biden administration to quickly address Iran’s ever-growing military threat.
“As Democrats and Republicans from across the political spectrum, we are united in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action entered into force, Iran has continued to test ballistic missile technology that could potentially be applied to nuclear-capable missiles, funded and supported terrorism throughout the Middle East, and engaged in cyberattacks to disrupt the global economy.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.