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China and Turkey defy US sanctions threat

April 23, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) gestures as he speaks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on 19 February 2019. [HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images]

China and Turkey have both said that they will continue to import oil from Iran in defiance of the Trump administration, which has threatened to impose sanctions on any country that buys oil from the Islamic Republic. The US announced yesterday that sanctions waivers granted to some of Iran’s largest customers were going to come to an end by 1 May, in an effort to escalate pressure on the regime in Tehran.

Concerns over a hit it on supplies were diffused by the White House saying that it had worked with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ensure that there is “sufficient supply in the markets” to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports. The promise of OPEC countries to increase supplies has done little to satisfy the biggest importers of Iranian oil. In addition to China and Turkey, the governments of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Italy and Greece had been granted waivers.

To-date, China has been the most vocal in its condemnation of Washington’s move. Yesterday, Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs blasted US President Donald Trump. “China opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called ‘long-arm jurisdictions’ imposed by the US,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “Our cooperation with Iran is open, transparent, lawful and legitimate, thus it should be respected.”

READ: Turkey slams US move to end waivers on Iran oil imports

Shuang was reported as saying that China “is committed to upholding the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and will play a positive and constructive role in upholding the stability of the global energy market.”

Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, meanwhile, rejected Trump’s sanctions outright. “This will not serve regional peace and stability,” he insisted, adding that it will “hurt” the Iranian people.

While Italy, Greece and Taiwan have already halted purchases, however, the Financial Times reported Indian officials as saying that New Delhi was “studying the implications of the decision.” They apparently declined further comment.

The Trump administration’s decision to end sanctions waivers is the latest effort in an ongoing campaign to put pressure on Iran since the US unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal signed under former President Barack Obama. Despite European efforts to keep the US on board, Trump abandoned the treaty in spring last year.