The United States has sanctioned Chinese state-run energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong Co Ltd for allegedly violating restrictions imposed on the Iranian regime’s oil sector, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Monday.
“We’ve said that we will sanction any sanctionable behavior, and we mean it,” Secretary Pompeo said in a speech in Florida in which he announced the move.
“We can’t tolerate more money going to the Ayatollah putting American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and putting their life at risk,” he said, referring to the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. “It’s too important.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up its sanctions against Iran’s regime after breaking from a nuclear pact brokered between Tehran and other Western nations under the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
In a later statement, Secretary Pompeo said Zhuhai Zhenrong “knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase or acquisition of crude oil from Iran” after the expiration of a U.S. sanctions waiver covering China on May 2, Reuters reported.
He said the sanctions blocked all property and interests in property of Zhuhai Zhenrong in the United States and barred its chief executive, Youmin Li, from entry into the country.
“The United States is taking further action as part of our maximum economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime,” he said.
“Any entity considering evading our sanctions should take notice of this action today,” Secretary Pompeo added. “It underscores our commitment to enforcement and to holding the Iranian regime accountable.”
The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s regime in November after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers.
Last month, the U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said Washington would sanction any country that continued to import Iranian oil and warned that it would look at reports of Iranian crude going to China.
According to data from government and trade sources, Asia’s crude oil imports from Iran fell in May to the lowest in at least five years after China and India wound down purchases amid U.S. sanctions, while Japan and South Korea halted imports.
Based in part on wire reports