China and Germany have defended their business ties with Iran in the face of President Donald Trump’s warning that any companies trading with the Islamic Republic would be barred from the United States.
The comments from Beijing and Berlin signalled growing anger from partners of the United States, which reimposed strict sanctions against Iran, over its threat to penalise businesses from third countries that continue to operate there.
“China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“China’s commercial co-operation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions,” it added in a faxed statement to Reuters.
“China’s lawful rights should be protected.”
The German government said US sanctions against Iran that have an extra-territorial effect violate international law, and it expects Washington to consider European interests when coming up with such sanctions.
The reimposition of US sanctions followed Trump’s decision earlier this year to pull out of a 2015 deal to lift the punitive measures in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program designed to prevent it from building an atomic bomb.
European countries, hoping to persuade Tehran to continue to respect the deal, have promised to try to lessen the blow of sanctions and to urge their firms not to pull out. But that has proved difficult: European companies have quit Iran, arguing that they cannot risk their US business.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by an Iranian newspaper as saying that a US plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero would not succeed.
US officials have said in recent weeks that they aim to pressure countries to stop buying oil from Iran in a bid to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and missile programs and involvement in regional conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
“If the Americans want to keep this simplistic and impossible idea in their minds they should also know its consequences,” Zarif told the Iran newspaper.
“They can’t think that Iran won’t export oil and others will export.”