Hong Kong dismissed U.S. warnings that it could face penalties if it does business with an oil tanker headed for the city that allegedly violated sanctions on Iran.
The city’s government has “strictly” implemented United Nations Security Council sanctions, which don’t impose “any restrictions on the export of petroleum from Iran,” a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said on Wednesday in response to a question about the U.S. warning.
“Certain countries may impose unilateral sanctions against certain places on the basis of their own considerations,” they said. “Those sanctions are outside the scope of the UN Security Council sanctions” implemented by Hong Kong.
Washington wants to put China and the autonomous city on notice that it will aggressively and consistently enforce its Iran sanctions, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said China would be informed that any entity doing business with the ship would expose it to U.S. sanctions.
The attention levied on this single vessel, the Pacific Bravo, underscores Washington’s desire to stymie Iran’s oil exports. Relations between the two sides have deteriorated sharply in recent weeks, following President Donald Trump’s pledge to force Iran’s vital oil exports down to zero and a revocation of key sanctions waivers.
The Pacific Bravo is owned by China’s Bank of Kunlun, according to the senior U.S. official. Reuters reported in October that the bank – once Beijing’s major channel for transactions with Iran – would stop handling such payments due to sanctions pressure. MDT/Bloomberg