“China is the main destination of illicit exports by Iran,” and talks to dissuade Beijing from the purchases are “going to be intensified,” US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said in a Bloomberg Television interview Monday.
The US will “take steps that we need to take in order to stop the export of Iranian oil and deter countries from buying it,” Malley added.
“We have not lessened any of our sanctions against Iran and in particular regards to Iran’s sale of oil,” he continued.
Iran’s oil exports in late 2022 reached records not seen since the country came under US sanctions nearly five years ago, shows a report citing data from international tanker-tracking services.
Tehran’s oil exports have been limited since former US President Donald Trump in 2018 exited a 2015 nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions aimed at curbing oil exports and the associated revenue to Iran’s government.
Exports have risen during the term of his successor President Biden, who had sought to revive the 2015 agreement, and hit the highest since 2019 on some estimates.
Iranian crude shipments have surged in recent months in defiance of Washington’s censure. Much of that flood of oil appears to be heading to China, the world’s biggest importer.
Pointing to the failure of the enemy’s policy of maximum pressure on Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi said in mid-November the country’s oil export has reached the pre-sanction levels.
“The enemies have formally announced that the (policy of) maxim pressure (on Iran) has ended in failure, as we saw that our exports to the region have increased and our production centers have been encouraged,” he added.