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Lankford Demands End to Chinese Funding Abuses in Iran

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), John Barrasso (R-WY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) sent a letter to US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging the development of a strategy to counter Iran’s petrochemical industry as well as rising global sales and shipments of illicit Iranian oil. The senators requested the secretaries impose sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities that continue to purchase, refine, or otherwise deal in Iranian-origin oil and petrochemicals.  

The Biden Administration has failed to implement a policy that counters China’s purchases of sanctioned Iranian oil, which benefits not only Beijing’s genocidal regime, but also Tehran’s suppression of peaceful protestors and furthers their sponsorship of international terrorism that threatens America.  

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has purchased roughly $47 billion in Iranian oil since President Biden took office. Iran’s ghost armada, the regime’s primary tool for illicit oil trade, has grown from 60 vessels to a staggering 338 vessels since 2021. Iran’s oil profits, hobbled by robust sanctions enforcement under the previous administration, are at their highest point since 2018. The lack of sanctions enforcement is not without consequence. Iran has used this cash windfall to violently quash ongoing peaceful protests at home, to finance terror proxy attacks against American troops and diplomats – most recently killing an American in March – and to fuel Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine through the provision of armed drones and other military support.”— wrote the senators. 

“To further vital US national security interests and curb the Iranian regime’s malign conduct, we respectfully request that you immediately enforce existing sanctions, including those in Executive Order 13846, and expand sanctions designations to include those who store Iranian oil, ship-to-ship oil transfer operators, individuals and entities, ports and port operators, and refineries and refinery operators – particularly in the PRC – dealing in Iranian-origin oil and petrochemicals.” — concluded the senators. 

The full text of the letter here or below. 

Dear Secretaries Blinken and Yellen:

We write with great concern regarding the administration’s lack of enforcement of Iran sanctions as a component of a more comprehensive Iran policy.  Despite sanctions, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has purchased roughly $47 billion in Iranian oil since President Biden took office. Iran’s ghost armada, the regime’s primary tool for illicit oil trade, has grown from 60 vessels to a staggering 338 vessels since 2021. Iran’s oil profits, hobbled by robust sanctions enforcement under the previous administration, are at their highest point since 2018. The lack of sanctions enforcement is not without consequence. Iran has used this cash windfall to violently quash ongoing peaceful protests at home, to finance terror proxy attacks against American troops and diplomats—most recently killing an American in March – and to fuel Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine through the provision of armed drones and other military support. The administration’s lack of sanctions and sanctions enforcement is directly undercutting American policy objectives in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. As such, we respectfully request that you develop a strategy to prevent Iran’s petrochemical industry from supporting the regime’s nefarious activities.  This strategy must include additional sanctions against PRC individuals and entities that continue to purchase, refine, or otherwise deal in sanctioned Iranian-origin oil.  

When the prior Administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) five years ago, the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran’s oil and energy sector strangled funding sources for state-sponsored terrorism and limited the Iranian regime’s access to both foreign reserves and oil and non-oil export revenue.  This was a successful strategy that the Biden Administration unfortunately has not continued.  Instead, the administration’s limited actions to expand the scope of designations, and other steps related to the Iranian regime’s illicit oil and petrochemical sales, has fueled the unprecedented level of malign conduct and repression we see today.   

To further vital US national security interests and curb the Iranian regime’s malign conduct, we respectfully request that you immediately enforce existing sanctions, including those in Executive Order 13846, and expand sanctions designations to include those who store Iranian oil, ship-to-ship oil transfer operators, individuals and entities, ports and port operators, and refineries and refinery operators – particularly in the PRC – dealing in Iranian-origin oil and petrochemicals. Doing so will deprive the Iranian regime of critical revenues that they would use to harm US interests and repress the Iranian people.  

We thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Sincerely, 

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