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US Notifies China It Will Enforce Trump-Era Sanctions On Iran Oil Shipments

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

A key tenet of the prior Trump administration’s crackdown on China and Iran was to punish those Chinese companies caught transferring sanctioned Iranian oil, which was often done through ‘ghosting’ or at other times offshore ship-to-ship transfers in order avoid detection.

Since President Biden took office there’s been wide reports that China’s ‘illicit’ imports of Iranian oil have soared, resulting in critics and Iran hawks charging the White House with “turning a blind eye” in terms of sanctions enforcement based on existing laws on the books, also as Biden is seeking a path back to engagement with Iran on the US rejoining the JCPOA nuclear deal.

US Notifies China It Will Enforce Trump-Era Sanctions On Iran Oil Shipments

This week a senior Biden admin official has admitted in comments to FT that such banned Iranian oil exports to China have been increasing “for some time now” as Beijing continues to be Tehran’s lifeline for circumventing oil sanctions, which has been ongoing for years now. China has also played a major part in keeping Venezuela’s oil exports afloat.

But now, as FT reports WednesdayThe Biden administration has told Beijing it will enforce Trump-era sanctions against Iranian oil as shipments from the Islamic regime to China have soared, a senior US official said.”

Despite the White House still saying it’s “prioritizing” re-entry into the nuclear deal, efforts which have been stalled thus far as Tehran is demanding the easing of sanctions as a first step, the senior official revealed to FT“We’ve told the Chinese that we will continue to enforce our sanctions.”

“There will be no tacit green light,” the official added, but enforcement might take the form of what’s dubbed these “secondary sanctions” targeting Chinese companies caught transferring Iranian oil. However, it remains the possibility that these too could ease assuming Washington and Tehran re-enter talks.

The senior official described to FT further that this could theoretically come as “either as part of a mutual set of steps or as part of a full return into compliance” with the JCPOA. “Ultimately, our goal is not to enforce the sanctions; it is to get to the point where we lift sanctions and Iran reverses its nuclear steps.”

Recall that in January Indonesia seized two supertankers — the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the MT Freya, which is under a Shanghai-based company — that were engaged in an unregistered transfer of Iranian oil at sea.

It’s believed that such sanctions-busting happens on a weekly basis through various means, which also includes operating ships under shell companies. This latest White House ‘threat’ to get serious on “secondary” sanctions enforcement (pertaining to Chinese transfers) appears ultimately about building more leverage as the US “indirectly” negotiates with the Iranians via European officials.


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Blue In Green

Meet the new boss, same or potentially worse than the old boss (lol).

What a joke…..

Assad must stay

Entire US is a joke lol


aray…….so true! JCPOA is dead in the water.

Blue In Green

Agreed, with the way Biden and his administration is handling things geopolitically/diplomatically regarding Iran, North Korea, Russia etc.,: We’re going to be in for a pretty rough next several years.


Reuters “discovered” a letter in UN which speaks about the creation of the “club of sanctioned countries” consisting of 16 or 17 countries which decided to form some sort of alliance against the illegal US unilateral sanctions, coercion and economic terrorism. The group is called the “defenders of international law” or something like that.

Based on Reuters, Algeria, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, the Palestinians and some other countries are the founding members.

We have to wait and see if this is true. If true, a really bad news for the outlaws…

Ivan Freely

Hopefully true. Maybe we’ll see a counter organization to the UN.

Clarence Spangle

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High Marshal Helbrect

It’s true RT uncovered it further

Clarence Spangle

“Looked at from this point of view the apparent insanity of our government’s foreign policy is revealed as a piece of shrewd calculating logic, put into effect in order to promote the Jéwish idea of a struggle for world-mastery.” ~ Mein Kampf, The Right to Self-Defense


We can hope, but this coming from Reuters, is a bit like believing in the fairy princess. But, once in a while they spill the beans just to see where they roll. As you said…we’ll see.

Pave Way IV

It’s Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations

Sanctioned Countries Seek UN Coalition Against Unilateralism [link]

While the intent is good, 1) it’s associated with the UN (= useless), and 2) their choice of uniforms is… well… unfortunate.

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Ivan Freely

Another litmus test for China. The US is now forcing China to pick a side. If China was smart they’d sacrifice their US markets and stick to Eurasia.


or send a few of their warships as escorts when they buy crude from Iran, a few destroyers should do the trick.

Ivan Freely

Interdiction at sea was not be the goal. As mentioned, getting caught would bring about other types of reprisal such as economic sanctions.


sort of have the feeling the yankee-twats are at the end of the rope where sanctions are concerned. don’t do much good for the disunited states of insufferable fools, more a knee-jerk reaction, sanctions and then more sanctions.

Mike Fink

What is the US going to do?
Stop importing all their consumer goods that they get from China?


Eventually that is the plan. They will utilize other willing toady like India, Vietnam and Indonesia. Manufacturing is being outsourced to these nations gradually. Many western manufacturing companies have moved ship out of China during the Obama and Trump admins.


“Biden is seeking a path back to engagement with Iran on the US rejoining the JCPOA nuclear deal.”…in a pigs eye.

Pave Way IV

China is the largest consumer of oil in the world. Iran is only a fraction of their supply (~3%), so it wouldn’t hurt overall Chinese supply. But the most important thing to Chinese is ‘face’ or the respect others have for their honor. The worst thing you can do to a Chinese big-shot is humiliate them in public – it’s unforgivable. The U.S. (Biden or whomever) considers the 3% of overall Chinese supply number to be the most important consideration for China.

The Chinese surely won’t be too pissed off about missing that small amount, right? But to the largest oil consumer in the world, this is like a slap in the face. The U.S. is telling China whom they are ‘allowed’ or ‘not allowed’ to buy their oil from. China sort of complies to keep from unnecessarily stirring up trouble but isn’t to enthusiastic about it. Now, the U.S. is accusing them of cheating and will take very visible steps (ship seizures) to stop that.

Great plan, U.S. Right up until the point China announces a digital Yuan for international trade and begins buying oil with it from Iran and everybody else. Are the Saudis going to tell their biggest customer (China 25%) no? If so, then Russia instantly doubles its export to China. Can’t have that now, can we? Brazil exports 70% of their oil to China and imports $3 billion A MONTH from them. Think they’ll use a digital Yuan?

I feel like the U.S. built its own coffin, and I’m being forced to nail the lid shut from inside.

Ricky Miller

China has been importing Iranian oil at hugely discounted prices because of the Sanctions. Iran maintains lines of business, keeps important wells running and keeps a base of people employed. They also get some minimal hard currency. But the PRC benefits enormously from this trade. Most of this imported oil, right around 100 million barrels or so, has been stored. Figuring the huge discount from already low global oil prices over the past two years the average cost per barrel was something close to…$14. If oil goes to $90 a barrel at some future point of large scale economic recovery, than subtracting some minimal storage costs the Chinese purchasers make some $70 U.S. a barrel. If China can increase it’s purchase and storage of sanctioned oil to say half a billion barrels than they are looking at just crazy bank, provided by American sanctions. This is why the oil trade will continue and why some Chinese importers probably hope that Biden is slow to rejoin the JCPOA.

Pave Way IV

China will become a major oil exporter with those kind of margins. Maybe a Chinese false flag in the Persian Gulf to close it and juice oil to $150/bbl. Sell ‘reserves’, refill when the price drops again, repeat. Half a billion barrels is about two months worth of Saudi output. That’s a lot of damn oil!

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