China frustrates United States efforts to end Iran's oil exports

Persian Gulf Arabian Gulf

Persian Gulf Arabian Gulf

Trump announced in early May the unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the Iran nuclear deal and the reinstatement of sanctions against the country, as well as against foreign companies who do business with it.

Meanwhile, the tensions between Washington and Beijing is scaring hedge funds away from an increasingly volatile oil market, according to Bloomberg, with money managers' total positions in the USA benchmark and Brent having slid to the lowest since 2016.

Iran's currency plumbed new depths this week ahead of August 7, when Washington is due to reimpose a first lot of sanctions following Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

United States officials have softened their stance after initially saying they would press allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to adhere to the sanctions and reduce their imports to zero.

"At 9pm [15:30 GMT on Friday] they attacked the school and tried to break the doors down and burn things", the Fars News Agency quoted the head of the school in the town of Ishtehad, Hojatoleslam Hindiani, as saying.

As part of the withdrawal, the US will on Monday begin to sanction Iranian transactions with USA dollar banknotes; trade in gold and precious metals; direct or indirect sales of graphite, raw or semi-finished metals; and Iran's automotive sector.

Teams of USA officials have been visiting capitals around the world to try to choke off sales of Iranian oil by early November, when US sanctions are due to snap back into effect.

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Trump made that much known in a Twitter post days ago during a joint White House news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

China has however agreed it will not increase oil imports from Iran, in a move which would directly challenge the USA blockade.

In Washington, the US State Department tweeted on its Persian-language account: "While it is ultimately up to the #people_of_Iran to determine their country's path, #America supports the voice of the Iranian people, which has been ignored for a long time". Global sanctions were lifted under the pact between world powers and Tehran in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

Ali Najafi Khoshroudi, the spokesman of Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said on Saturday that Iran-U.S. talks are possible if Washington apologizes and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "China and Iran unwaveringly maintain normal trade and economic ties".

China - the world's top crude buyer and Iran's No. 1 customer - has said previously that it opposed unilateral sanctions and lifted monthly oil imports from the country by 26 percent in July.

Other oil producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have vowed to increase production to cover the loss of Iranian oil.

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