News 17 august — 11:04

U.S. threatens secondary sanctions for cooperation with Iran

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The new U.S. special representative for Iran said Thursday the Trump administration is prepared to impose sanctions on all countries that buy oil from Iran after a deadline in November, including China, the top importer of Iranian crude, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Brian Hook, who has been appointed as special representative and chief of a new Iran Action Group at the State Department, said the U.S. would issue waivers from sanctions to countries that have made efforts to reduce their Iranian oil purchases.

India and South Korea are among Iran’s top oil customers. Both countries already have started to scale back imports and are hoping to obtain waivers to buy more time to replace Iranian crude.

But China repeatedly has said it has no plans to comply with a wave of U.S. sanctions that are due to be reimposed on Iran’s energy sector on Nov. 4. Some oil analysts expect China to increase Iranian imports instead, potentially undermining U.S. efforts to isolate Iran.

In a response to a question about China’s plan to continue importing Iranian oil at a State Department briefing on Thursday, Mr. Hook refused to rule out imposing secondary sanctions on Beijing as punishment.

“The United States certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations in terms of not risking the threat of U.S. secondary sanctions if they continue with those transactions,” Mr. Hook said when asked about the Iran Action Group’s plan for dealing with China.

China, which imports over one-quarter of Iran’s oil, repeatedly has said that trade with Iran, across a range of economic and energy sectors, is lawful and that it doesn’t plan to reduce imports.

“We are prepared to impose secondary sanctions on other governments that continue this sort of trade with Iran,” Mr. Hook said.

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