The United States imposed sanctions on Chinese companies for “knowingly engaging” in the transportation of Iranian oil, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.
The move is part of the United States’ “maximum economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime and those who enable its destabilizing behavior,” said Pompeo.
“We are imposing sanctions on certain Chinese firms for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction for the transport of oil from Iran, including knowledge of sanctionable conduct, contrary to U.S. sanctions,” he said.
At a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Pompeo added that the U.S. was “telling China, and all nations, [that it] will sanction every violation.”
“The U.S. 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 added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the U.S. on Thursday of “bullying” its adversaries.
“We always oppose the so-called long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions,” said Geng. “We also oppose the bullying practice of the U.S. China’s cooperation with Iran is legitimate and legal and should be respected and protected. We urge the U.S. to correct its wrongdoing.”
The latest round of sanctions follows the spate of drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities this month. The U.S. and other Western nations, including France and Germany, pointed the finger at Tehran.
The Iranian regime strenuously denies the accusations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mousavi described the evidence against Iran as “ridiculous.”
“These allegations, which lack evidence, are based solely on a ridiculous rationale that ‘there is no other possible explanation,'” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that European powers were merely “parroting absurd U.S. claims.”
Responsibility for the missile and drone attacks was officially claimed by the Iranian-backed rebel Houthi movement, which has waged war on the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015.
In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week, President Donald Trump pledged to keep ratcheting up sanctions against the Iranian economy until the regime gives up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“All nations have a duty to act,” Trump said. “No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened.”