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The New Arab Staff

China seeks to protect Iran nuclear deal and bolster Tehran ties amid oil trade criticism

China imports the majority of its oil from the Middle East [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 March, 2021

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Beijing said it will protect ties with Tehran, amid reports that large amounts of Iranian oil have been transferred to China.

China intends to protect the Iran nuclear deal and defend its interests with Tehran amid mounting US pressure, according to a statement from the Chinese ministry of commerce. 

Speaking today at a press conference in Beijing, a ministry of commerce spokesman, Gao Feng, said that the Biden administration had not notified China of sanctions on Iranian oil

It follows a Reuters report that Iran was "indirectly" transferring oil to China for months, listing the crude as coming from Oman, the UAE, or Malaysia.

US President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which the former president unilaterally withdrew from in 2018. In exchange for talks on the deal, Iran is calling for all sanctions to be lifted, leading to deadlock. 

Since the sanctions were imposed, Iranian oil exports to China, India, Japan, and South Korea have rapidly declined. 

More than half of Asia's crude oil imports come from the Middle East. 

At a meeting in southern China on Monday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov both reiterated their support for a return to the Iran nuclear deal and lifting sanctions. 

In February, China's foreign ministry urged calm and restraint between all parties. 

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