A U.S. State Department official has suggested that Washington could impose sanctions on China if it continues to buy Iranian oil after November 4 when sanctions specifically targeting Iranian oil sales abroad will kick in, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The WSJ quotes newly appointed special representative and head of an Iran Action Group at the State Department as saying that, «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.»
In addition, Brian Hook declined to rule out the possibility that the United States could count China among those targeted by secondary sanctions for its repeatedly stated intention to continue buying Iranian crude despite U.S. sanctions.
Earlier this month the United States managed to secure a promise from China that it will not expand its Iranian oil imports, but given the tariff escalation between the 2, it’s possible that China could revoke this promise. This is more than likely unless, of course, the next talks, which are planned for later this month, put an end to what everybody is already calling a trade war.
An Iran Action Group was set up this week to «direct and coordinate all activity relating to Iran,» as per WSJ’s report. The purpose of the administration is to apply maximum pressure on Tehran in hopes of spurring a change of government. Skeptics, however, have warned that the regime change plan may not work out as well this time as it did in 1953.
Crude oil is the number-one target of the sanctions, and Washington officials have been very busy in the last few months trying to secure commitments from its allies that they will stop importing Iranian oil. The task has proved challenging, however, because of China. Other Asian importers of Iranian oil are hoping to secure waivers from the sanctions because they would be hard put to quickly find an alternative to the attractively priced Iranian crude.