US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced new Iran-related sanctions targeting Chinese entities that trade in oil with Tehran, as hopes for a meeting in New York between Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani began to fade.
“We're imposing sanctions on certain Chinese entities for knowingly transporting oil from Iran contrary to United States sanctions,” Mr Pompeo said at a conference hosted by the pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran.
The sanctions by the Treasury Department target five Chinese individuals and six entities, including two Cosco Shipping Corporation subsidiaries.
The sanctions apply to Cosco Shipping Tanker Co and Cosco Shipping Tanker Seaman and Ship Management Co Ltd but not to the parent company, according to a notice on the Treasury website. Also targeted were “China Concord Petroleum Co, Kunlun Shipping Company Ltd, Kunlun Holding Company Ltd and Pegasus 88 Limited”.
"We're telling China and all nations that we will sanction every violation of sanctionable activity,” Mr Pompeo said, adding that the enforcement of Iran sanctions “has been, and will continue to be, relentless”.
The new sanctions, announced a day before President Rouhani is expected to leave New York after addressing the UN General Assembly, dealt a blow to any remaining hopes of him meeting President Trump.
Mr Pompeo hailed greater European solidarity with the US position following the attacks on two Saudi oil facilities on September 14 that he denounced once again as an “act of war.” He said the statement by France, Britain and Germany, holding Iran responsible for the attacks and calling on it to negotiate a long-term framework that addresses regional security, showed that the Europeans “have joined reality”.
“This is progress … this is what American diplomacy has achieved,” Mr Pompeo told the conference, which was attended by UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba and the Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs Thamer Al Sabhan.
He praised Mr Trump’s approach in withdrawing from the nuclear deal and increasing sanctions. “The US campaign against Iran is effective multilateralism," he said.
"This is the beginning of the awakening that Iran is the aggressor not the aggrieved. Iran has a long 40-year history of unprovoked aggression, for murdering and torturing their own people, killing Americans, harboring Al Qaeda," Mr Pompeo said.
"Too many people listen to Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif. Rouhani is desperate to deceive."
Mr Pompeo said “the more Iran lashes out, the greater our pressure will be”.
He said the goal of the next phase of pressure would be to "disentangle the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from Iran's economy”.
He concluded by calling upon more nations to join hands with the US administration, the saying: “God bless the people of Iran.”