China hits back at US for sanctions on Iran oil deals

China says it opposes US 'bullying' after US imposed sanctions for violating Iran measures.

    Ships from the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) are among those that were slapped with sanctions by the US on Wednesday [File: Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters]
    Ships from the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) are among those that were slapped with sanctions by the US on Wednesday [File: Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters]

    China's foreign ministry has criticised sanctions imposed by the United States on specific Chinese entities and people, which the US accuses of knowingly transferring oil from Iran in violation of Washington's curbs on Tehran.

    "We always oppose the so-called long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday. "We also oppose the bullying practice of the US."

    China's cooperation with Iran is legitimate and legal and should be respected and protected, Geng said, adding: "We urge the US to correct its wrongdoing."

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that his country is slapping sanctions on five Chinese nationals and six entities, including two COSCO Shipping Corporation subsidiaries.

    "We're telling China, and all nations: know that we will sanction every violation of sanctions," Pompeo said at a conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

    He warned countries of the risks of breaching sanctions against Iran and its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military force.

    "The US will intensify our efforts to educate countries and companies on the risk of doing business with IRGC entities, and we will punish them if they persist in defiance of our warnings," he said.

    The latest sanctions follow drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on September 14. The US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France and Germany blame Tehran for the attacks, allegations Iran strenuously denies.

    The missile and drone attacks were claimed by the rebel Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015.

    "The more Iran lashes out, the greater our pressure will and should be," Pompeo said. "That path forward begins now with two new actions."

    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 programme 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 programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies