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As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the US is once again brandishing the trade sanctions scepter at China, threatening to impose further economic restrictions on China if Shanghai continues to import Iranian oil.

Key quotes

“Brian Hook, who has been appointed as special representative and chief of a new Iran Action Group at the State Department, said the U.S. would issue waivers from sanctions to countries that have made efforts to reduce their Iranian oil purchases.

India and South Korea are among Iran’s top oil customers. Both countries already have started to scale back imports and are hoping to obtain waivers to buy more time to replace Iranian crude.

But China repeatedly has said it has no plans to comply with a wave of U.S. sanctions that are due to be reimposed on Iran’s energy sector on Nov. 4. Some oil analysts expect China to increase Iranian imports instead, potentially undermining U.S. efforts to isolate Iran.

“China always believes that reckless imposition of sanctions or threatening to use them will not help solve the issues,” China’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement last week.