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Exclusive-U.S. has reached out to China about cutting oil imports from Iran, officials say By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Flags of the U.S. and China fly outside a Shanghai company building on April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song


By Arshad Mohammed and John Irish

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) – The United States has reached out to China diplomatically about reducing its purchases of Iranian , U.S. and European officials said on Tuesday, as Washington seeks to persuade Tehran to resume talks about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

Chinese oil companies have been buying Iranian oil, which is believed to have kept Iran’s economy alive despite U.S. sanctions. These sanctions are meant to stop such sales and put pressure on Iran.

A senior U.S. official spoke under oath to discuss sensitive information. “We know of Chinese oil purchases.”

He said that the United States has used its sanctions authority to address Iranian sanctions evasion. This includes those who do business with China.

The official stated that they had been discussing this issue diplomatically with Chinese officials as part of their dialogue on Iran policy. “However we believe this to be a better way forward to address our concerns.”

This was also the issue that Wendy Sherman raised when she traveled to China in late July.

Because of nuclear diplomacy’s sensitive nature, the European official spoke under anonymity and said that China had been protecting Iran. She also suggested that one of the major issues facing the West is the amount of oil China buys from Iran.

Although the U.S. State Department was not immediately available to comment on statements from European and U.S. officials, they did respond.

Kpler, a commodity analytics company, estimates that China’s oil imports to Iran for the year have been 553 000 barrels per day until August.

Two days after Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner elected as president of Iran in June, indirect U.S.–Iranian talks on reviving 2015’s agreement were halted by Kpler. This was two days after Hassan Rouhani had been negotiated that deal.

The deal stipulated that Iran would place restrictions on its uranium-enrichment program. It is one possibility to produce the fissile material needed to make a nuclear bomb. In return, economic sanctions from the U.S., U.N. und the European Union were eased. Iran denies seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Trump, the then-President of the United States, reimposed severe economic sanctions on Iran in 2018. However, Iran has continued illicit oil sales to Chinese customers.

After waiting about one year, Iran responded by resuming some of its nuclear activities it agreed to limit under the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden said that while he puts “diplomacy before anything” with Iran, he also stated that negotiations would fail and he would consider other alternatives.

According to a French official, the Iranian government must be allowed to return to Vienna to discuss the terms of the accord. This is to prevent any diplomatic tensions that might threaten negotiations.

According to the French official, “We must, in this stage, remain in close contact with and closely unite all of the JCPOA members, including the Russians, and the Chinese.”

We expect more from the Chinese, in particular. French officials also stated they need to put pressure on Iran.

Iran’s foreign ministry stated Friday that talks about resuming compliance to the nuclear accord will be resumed “very soon”, although he did not give a specific date.

The extent of China’s willingness to accept any U.S. diplomatic approach on Iran remains unclear.

The U.S.-Sino relationship has fallen to its lowest point in many decades. There have been little progress made on issues ranging anywhere from human rights to transparency about the COVID-19 origins.

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said that the United States is responsible and not Iran in a briefing on Sept. 24,

The spokesperson claimed that Iran was the culprit in the latest round of tensions. According to a transcript, the US must halt its current policy of maximum sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction against third parties.