By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. on Monday slapped sanctions on a Chinese oil trading company and its CEO over their alleged transport of Iranian crude oil.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the economic penalties on Zhuhai Zhenrong, the corporation, and its chief executive, Youmin Li.
"They violated U.S. law by accepting crude oil," Pompeo said while giving public remarks in Florida. "We’ve said all along that any sanction will indeed be enforced. We can’t tolerate more money going to the ayatollah, putting American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, and putting their life at risk. It’s too important."
Any assets owned by Zhuhai Zhenrong or its executive subject to U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen and U.S. persons are now generally barred from conducting business with them.
Tensions have been escalating between the U.S. and Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018 from the nuclear pact world powers struck with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.
Trump has since embarked on a campaign to scuttle the agreement, including the reimposition of sanctions on Iranian crude oil that were lifted as part of that agreement.
China was one of seven countries and Taiwan that were initially granted waivers for the oil sanctions, but the Trump administration declined to renew them when they expired May 2.