Why the U.S. wants China to stop importing Iranian crude

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FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo

The government of the United States is mulling a ban on Chinese imports of Iranian crude as it becomes increasingly clear that reaching a deal with Iran before the inauguration of its new government is unlikely.

The oil markets see the U.S. somewhat unlikely to antagonize China further, yet Washington would be inclined to highlight that it has other options to opt for should the talks fail altogether.  Verifiable Chinese imports of Iranian crude amounted to some 250kbpd over the course of H1-2021 according to vessel-tracking firm Kpler, a 130% increase year-on-year, largely coming on the back of Biden-era softening of rhetoric towards China.

A significant volume of Iranian exports, however, is routinely trans-shipped in the region of the Malacca Straits, rendering the deciphering of their final destination all but impossible.

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