The United States under the Trump administration has been putting Iran through a “campaign of maximum pressure”. It has targeted a number of trades in Iran, in particular, its massive oil sector.
The deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette has said that the maximum pressure campaign is working, especially with regards to the country’s shipping network. He said that the United States is going to continue targeting Chinese entities that are buying oil from Iran despite the measures put in place by the Trump administration.
While on a trip to the Middle East, Dan Brouillette said that the United States Department of Treasury has designated several companies and individuals for their involvement in buying Iranian oil. He said: “Certain individuals and certain companies have already been designated. There have already been certain designations by the US Department of Treasury and if there are additional activities that the Chinese engage in then there will be strong considerations given to additional designations.”
The Trump administration decided to target Iran’s exports of oil – its biggest source of income. The aim is to cut the regime off from the funds that it uses to export its belligerence abroad and to eventually bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
Sanctions were imposed on Iran, leaving the country unable to freely export its oil as before. Earlier this year, sanctions waivers were not renewed in a bid to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero. However, China has continued to trade with Iran and it has allowed the regime to hold oil in China.
According to some reports, during the month of July, Iran (via the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company) brought tankers across to China. The capacity of these tankers would have amounted to around 20 million barrels. The oil was then offloaded into bonded storage tanks belonging to Chinese entities.
Iran has said that it is not exporting oil to China because technically the oil is still owned by Iran, it is just being stored in China and therefore it is not carrying out a breach of US sanctions. However, the behavior is being considered illicit by the United States and the Trump administration will no doubt broach the subject when it enters into trade talks with China. It is expected that Washington will try to convince Beijing to stop aiding Iran in such a way so as to benefit from trade concessions.
Brouillette has also said that the maximum pressure campaign on Iran is likely to continue. He said: “I think the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue, to be honest, I think some of the latest activities that we’ve seen, some of the latest announcements we’ve seen with regards to R&D and some of the centrifuge activities are going to create some level of concern in our government. This behavior has got to stop.”
Aside from the politics of Iran’s exports, the international community must listen to the voice of the Iranians who are desperate for the regime to fall. They too are exerting a pressure campaign on the regime and they require the support of the international community.