China on Monday accused the US of “peddling arms” and “interfering” in other countries’ affairs after Washington threatened sanctions against any nation taking advantage of the end of a UN ban to sell weapons to Iran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned against anyone supplying arms to Iran after Tehran said a longstanding UN embargo against such deals had expired.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said Pompeo’s remarks were “utterly unjustifiable.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the US has been selling its arms all over the world, seeking geopolitical interests through arms trade, and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.
Asked if China would now sell arms to Iran, Zhao did not directly address the issue but said Beijing would “handle military trade in accordance with its military export policy and its international obligations”.
The embargo on the sale of conventional arms to Iran was due to begin expiring progressively from October 18 under terms of the UN resolution that confirmed the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Tehran, which can now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the expiration as a diplomatic victory over its arch enemy the United States, which had tried to maintain an indefinite freeze on arms sales.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in 2018 and has unilaterally begun reimposing sanctions on Iran.
China, Iran’s primary trading partner, has long accused the US of exacerbating tensions over Iran’s weapons program by pulling out of the deal.
Iran has no frozen assets in China and the two countries maintain logical relations, according to a senior diplomat.
“Iran has resources in China, which it uses to supply its needs and this is different from the money blocked in Japan, Iraq, or South Korea for instance,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a regular press briefing on Monday.
“We hope the Korean government would fulfill its commitments soon. The progress is insignificant and unacceptable to us,” he said.
Iran also has assets blocked in Japan, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently discussed in a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.
“The importance of Iran’s access to its financial resources was underlined in this phone conversation and we hope the Japanese side would carry out its duties based on international rules and regulations,” Khatibzadeh said.