The waters get more muddy
Politico is reporting that senior officials now agree that China defied US sanctions by importing more than 1 billion crude oil from Iran last month. The administration does not know how to hit back.
According the article, the State Department considered issuing a waiver as payment in kind for their investment in an Iranian oil field. However, that idea is being abandoned.
Others are looking to impose secondary sanctions on Chinese entities as a penalty for ignoring the Iran sanctions. Of course that would muddy the waters for US/China trade negotiations.
The Trump administration is trying to squeeze Iran economically in order to get them to conform to the nuclear pact. Iran declared it has enriched uranium behind the limits prescribed by its July 2015 agreement.
THe US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), calliing it the “worst deal in history”, but the administration still demanded Iran comply with the terms of the deal.
Yesterday Trump tweeted that sanctions would be increased substantially.
Secretary of State Pompeo meanwhile has outlined 12 conditions that Iran must meet as part of any US Iran talks.
Security Advisor Bolton said on Firday that the US “will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear weapons programs, and ends its violent activities across the Middle East, including conducting and supporting terrorism around the world.”
So far, the adminstration has shunned military retaliation as a means of pressuring the nation despite the shooting down of an unmanned drone and Iran’s effort to create disruptions the in the Persian Gulf. Just today, Iran tried to seize a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
There are two bad actors that the US is now targetting – China and Iran. With both bad actors in cahoots, it makes making progress on trade with China and nuclear disarmament with regard to Iran, difficult at best.