CHINA is refusing US demands to reduce the amount of oil it imports from Iran, in a major blow to Trump’s efforts to isolate Tehran over the country’s controversial nuclear programme.
US officials are currently travelling the world in a dramatic effort to stop other countries from buying Iranian oil.
However, two top US bureaucrats have told Bloomberg that China is provocatively refusing to comply.
The snub could seriously undermine US efforts to isolate Iran over the country’s controversial nuclear programme.
The Trump administration had wanted Iranian oil exports cut to zero by November 4.
It has warned countries which ignore the policy will face US sanction, even if they are American allies.
China has however agreed it will not increase oil imports from Iran, in a move which would directly challenge the US blockade.
Currently China is the world’s top buyer of crude oil, including from Iran, making Chinese refusal to cooperate a major challenge to the US.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “China and Iran unwaveringly maintain normal trade and economic ties.
“China will continue to cooperate with Iran adhering to its international obligations.”
Last month around 35 percent of Iranian oil exports went to China.
A State Department official confirmed Francis Fannon, assistant secretary of state at the US Bureau of Energy Resources, was recently in China to discuss Iranian sanctions.
Other oil producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have vowed to increase production to cover the loss of Iranian oil.
Like the US, Saudi Arabia is worried about Iran’s nuclear programme and accuses the country of supporting terrorists across the Middle East.
In May, Trump controversially pulled America out of the nuclear deal Obama agreed with Iran in 2015 (Image: GETTY)
In May, Trump controversially pulled America out of the nuclear deal Obama agreed with Iran in 2015.
The move was condemned by US allies including the UK, Germany and France.
Trump claimed the deal wasn’t stopping Iran supporting terror groups or developing ballistic missiles.
The US is due to impose a series of new sanctions on Iran in the next few months.