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U.S. sanctions Chinese oil buyer over alleged Iran violations

23 July 2019 - 43   - 0

The United States has sanctioned Chinese state-run energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong Co Ltd for allegedly violating restrictions imposed on Iran’s oil sector, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Monday.

“We’ve said that we will sanction any sanctionable behavior, and we mean it,” Pompeo said in a speech in Florida in which he announced the move.

It comes amid increased tensions between Iran and the West as well as between the United States and China, which have been engaged in a major trade war.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up its sanctions against Iran after breaking from a nuclear pact brokered between Tehran and other Western nations under the previous administration of President Barack Obama.

In a later statement, Pompeo said Zhuhai Zhenrong “knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase or acquisition of crude oil from Iran” after the expiration of a U.S. sanctions waiver covering China on May 2.

He said the sanctions blocked all property and interests in property of Zhuhai Zhenrong in the United States and barred its chief executive, Youmin Li, from entry into the country.

“Any entity considering evading our sanctions should take notice of this action today,” Pompeo said. “It underscores our commitment to enforcement and to holding the Iranian regime accountable.”

China’s embassy in Washington rejected the U.S. stance.

“China firmly opposes the U.S. imposition of unilateral sanctions and so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ on China and other countries invoking its domestic law,” a spokesperson said by email.

“We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its wrongdoing and earnestly respect other parties’ legal rights and interests.”Zhuhai Zhenrong, which specializes mainly in buying Iranian oil and is based in Beijing, was previously sanctioned in 2012 by the Obama administration over its dealings with Iran.

The company is now a subsidiary of Macau-based, state-controlled conglomerate Nam Kwong Group.

(REUTERS)

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