National Security

U.S. Sanctions Chinese Companies Over Illicit Iranian Oil Scheme

An Iranian-flagged oil tanker
An Iranian-flagged oil tanker / Getty Images

The Trump administration on Thursday leveled new sanctions on a Chinese shipping company for helping Iran evade sanctions on its export of crude oil and petrochemicals.

The State and Treasury Departments hit three China-based companies and their principal executive officers with new sanctions "for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran." The companies are Zhihang Ship Management CO Ltd., New Far International Logistics LLC, and Sino Energy Shipping Ltd.

An Iranian refining company and a United Arab Emirates-based petrochemical company were also sanctioned for aiding Tehran’s export of illicit materials.

China is a principal importer of Iran’s crude oil, which is heavily sanctioned by the United States. Despite these restrictions, China has continued to purchase Iranian oil, providing the regime with critical cash resources. The Washington Free Beacon first reported in August that several Iranian oil tankers traveled to China with what experts believe were full stocks of illicit oil, in violation of American sanctions.

Additional sanctions were leveled by the Treasury Department on six entities known to be supporting Triliance Petrochemical Co., which was designated by the United States in January for illicit activities related to Iran’s oil sector. These newly sanctioned entities are located in China, Iran, and the UAE.

"Iran’s petroleum industry is a major source of revenue for the Iranian regime and funds its malign activities throughout the Middle East," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an announcement on the sanctions. "Our actions today reaffirm the United States’ commitment to denying the Iranian regime the financial resources it needs to fuel terrorism and other destabilizing activities."