The United States is imposing new sanctions on certain Chinese entities and people who it accuses of knowingly transferring oil from Iran in violation of Washington’s curbs on Tehran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
The US Treasury Department announced that it placing sanctions on five Chinese nationals and six entities, including two Cosco Shipping Corporation subsidiaries.
“And we are telling China, and all nations: know that we will sanction every violation,” Pompeo said at a conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
China, which is embroiled in a series of disputes with the United States including a trade war, is believed to be the biggest foreign buyer of Iranian oil.
The Trump administration in May said that the United States would unilaterally force all countries to stop buying Iran's oil, its major export, sending tensions soaring.
Attacks on September 14 on the oil facilities of Saudi Arabia, widely blamed on Iran, have rattled the Middle East and raised concerns about a broader war. France, Britain and Germany this week said they agreed with the US findings.
"Some have said that they've joined the United States; I think they have joined reality," Pompeo said of the Europeans.
“The more Iran lashes out the greater our pressure will and should be,” Pompeo said. “That path forward begins now with two new actions.”
He said Washington was also ramping up efforts to educate countries on the risks of doing business with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps entities and that it will punish those who continue to engage with them in violation of sanctions.
In a speech to the annual gathering of world leaders on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump promised to keep trying to squeeze Iran’s economy with sanctions until Tehran agrees to give up what Washington says is a pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Iran has said its nuclear program has always been for peaceful purposes only.
Last year Trump withdrew from a 2015 international accord with Iran which had put limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.