US targets Chinese and Indian energy brokers for violating Iran nuclear sanctions

WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Iranian oil and gas producers as well as Chinese and Indian brokers, increasing pressure amid a stalemate in talks over restoring a nuclear deal.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has said it remains committed to diplomacy with Iran to restore a 2015 agreement to curb its nuclear program.

“In the absence of an agreement, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to limit exports of oil, petroleum products and petrochemicals from Iran,” said Brian Nelson, a senior Treasury Department official.

The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on a network of Iranian petrochemical companies, including suspected front companies in China and the United Arab Emirates for Iran’s state-owned company and Hong Kong-based Triliance. already under US sanctions for its relations with Iran. .

It has also taken action against China-based broker Jeff Gao and Indian national Mohammad Shaheed Ruknooddin Bhore for allegedly handling Triliance’s affairs.

The United States has sought to prevent any nation from buying Iranian oil since 2018 after then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of a brokered deal, in which Iran drastically reduced its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.

China remained the top buyer of Iranian oil while India reluctantly ended imports under pressure from the United States.

Biden has sought to restore the nuclear deal, saying the United States would ease sanctions if Iran returns to compliance, but his chief negotiator recently said diplomacy is more likely than not to fail.

Iran has insisted that the United States withdraw a Trump-era designation of its powerful Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, a move Biden rejected as peripheral to nuclear deal talks.

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