July 23 (UPI) — The United States imposed sanctions on China’s state-run oil trading company and its chief executive for dealing in Iranian oil, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
During a speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Florida, Pompeo announced the sanctions against Chinese firm Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited and its chief executive, Youmin li, stating that the United States has long said it would impose and enforce any sanction at its disposal against the Iranian regime.
“We can’t tolerate more money going to the Ayatollah putting American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and putting their life at risk,” he said, referring to the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, by his religious title. “It’s too important.”
In a statement, Pompeo said the company knowingly made a significant purchase of crude oil from Iran on May 2, and the sanctions will block the company from banking or property transactions in the United States while also barring Li entry into the country.
“The United States is taking further action as part of our maximum economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime,” he said, adding that others considering of attempting to evade sanctions should take note as today’s action “underscores our commitment to enforcement and to holding the Iranian regime accountable.”
The sanctions come amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States that kicked off in May when Tehran partially pulled out of a multinational nuclear accord in retaliation to the Trump administration wholly withdrawing from the deal year earlier.
Since then, the countries have traded shooting down one another’s unmanned drones near the Gulf of Oman where the United States said Iran attacked two oil tankers in June.
On Sunday, Iran said it busted a Central Intelligence Agency spy ring and detained 17 Iranian-born agents, some of whom were sentenced to death.
President Donald Trump called the announcement “totally false.”