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U.S. Penalizes Chinese Companies for Aiding Iran’s Oil Exports

  • September 29, 2022

The United States first imposed sanctions on a Chinese company for violating restrictions on the purchase of Iranian oil in July 2019, when Mike Pompeo, then the secretary of state under Mr. Trump, announced penalties against a state-owned oil trading company, Zhuhai Zhenrong, and its chief executive, Li Youmin.

After Washington imposed expansive sanctions on Iran in 2018, the Trump administration granted waivers to eight governments, including that of China, to continue importing limited amounts of oil. But those waivers expired in May 2019.

Zhuhai Zhenrong and Sinopec, another state-owned enterprise, were the largest importers in China of Iranian oil.

A New York Times investigation from August 2019 found that China and other countries were receiving oil shipments from a larger number of Iranian oil tankers than previously known. Even after the waivers expired that year, 12 Iranian tankers loaded and delivered oil across Asia and the Mediterranean, with six of those unloading their cargo at ports in China.

Last month, the State and Treasury Departments announced sanctions against six companies, four of them based in Hong Kong, for helping sell tens of millions of dollars of Iranian oil and petrochemical products.

Edward Wong contributed reporting.

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