China opposes unilateral sanctions on Iran

Updated: 2012-01-05 08:06

By Wang Yan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran over its nuclear program, saying its economic, trade and energy exchanges with Teheran should not be affected.

US President Barack Obama last Saturday signed into law tough new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.

The European Union is also expected to impose new sanctions by the end of this month, possibly including a ban on oil imports and a freeze on the nation's central bank assets.

"China opposes placing one's domestic law above international law and imposing unilateral sanctions against other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news briefing in Beijing.

"China has consistently believed that sanctions are not the correct way to ease tensions or resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program," Hong said.

The latest US sanctions would cut financial institutions that work with Iran's central bank off from the US financial system.

Foreign central banks which deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face restrictions.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe urged Europe to match Washington's tighter sanctions, saying the measures could include targeting Iran's central bank and imposing an embargo on Iranian oil.

Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, said the US has repeatedly required other countries to join its sanctions against Iran in accordance with its own domestic laws, since the passage of the Iran Oil Sanctions Act in 1996.

Since the latest US defense bill, which contains the sanction measures against Iran, is also a domestic law of the US, its requirement for other countries to join its sanctions against Iran is unreasonable.

"The US hopes other countries can ban oil imports from Iran and cut off their ties with Iran's central bank, which is a complete violation of international law," said Hua.

"The US hopes countries across the world, especially the major powers, can join it and exert pressure on and even take military action against Iran. China does not need to follow suit," said Hua, adding that China's stance is shared by most countries.

The new US sanctions come at a time of rising tension with Teheran, which has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz - through which more than a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes.

"If the military vessels and warships of any country want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz without coordination and permission of Iran's Navy forces, they should be stopped by the Iranian Armed Forces," the semi-official Fars news agency quated Iranian lawmaker Nader Qazipour as saying on Wednesday.

AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 01/05/2012 page11)