US sanctions Chinese oil buyer over alleged Iran violations

CNPC ‘nodding donkeys’ oil pumps pump oil during a storm in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, China. (Bloomberg pic)

WASHINGTON: The United States has sanctioned China’s state-run energy company Zhuhai Zhengrong Co Ltd for allegedly violating restrictions imposed on Iran’s oil sector, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Monday.

“We’ve said that we will sanction any sanctionable behaviour, and we mean it,” Pompeo said in remarks in Florida.

The move comes amid increased tensions between Iran and the West as well as between the United States and China, which have restarted major trade talks.

Republican US President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up its sanctions against Iran after breaking from the nuclear pact brokered between Tehran and other Western nations under the previous Democratic administration of US President Barack Obama.

Zhuhai Zhengrong, which specializes mainly in buying Iranian oil and is based in Beijing, was previously sanctioned in 2012 by the Obama administration over its dealings with Iran.

The company is now a subsidiary of Macau-based, state-controlled conglomerate Nam Kwong Group.