BEIJING (Dispatches) – China and Germany on Wednesday became the latest country to say it will ignore the United States and continue to conduct business with Iran.
The comments from Beijing and Berlin signaled growing anger from partners of the United States, which reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, over its threat to penalize 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 cooperation 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 U.S. sanctions against Iran that have an extra-territorial effect violate international law, and Germany expects Washington to consider European interests when coming up with such sanctions.
The reimposition of U.S. sanctions followed Trump’s decision earlier this year to pull out of a 2015 deal to lift the sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
Tuesday’s sanctions target Iran’s purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and the auto sector.
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 U.S. business.
Among those that have suspended plans to invest in Iran are France’s oil major Total, its big carmakers PSA and Renault, and their German rival Daimler.
Danish engineering company Haldor Topsoe, one of the world’s leading industrial catalyst producers, said on Wednesday it would cut around 200 jobs from its workforce of 2,700 due to the new U.S sanctions on Iran, which made it very hard for its customers there to finance new projects.
The chief executive of reinsurance group Munich Re said it may abandon its Iran business under pressure from the United States, but described the operation as very small.
Turkey, however, said it would continue to buy natural gas from Iran.
Beijing has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. It is Iran’s biggest oil customer, taking in more than 650,000 barrels per day from the country.
The world’s No. 2 economy is reportedly gearing up to take more and "vacuum up much of the Iranian oil that other nations won’t buy because of the threat of US sanctions.”
Chinese companies are also interested in Iran’s oil and gas projects.
State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in Iran’s giant Yadavaran and North Azadegan oil fields and eye participating in further developments of the deposits.
CNPC is also about to take over Total’s stake in the giant Iranian South Pars gas project after the French company decided to leave amid U.S. sanctions.
Iran plans to increase the production potential of its oil fields by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the form of 34 projects, estimated to cost more than $6 billion.