US pressure on Iran and its “long-arm jurisdiction” against companies in third countries is the “root cause” of tension with Tehran, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
“China has consistently and resolutely opposed the United States imposing unilateral sanctions and so-called long-armed jurisdiction over other countries, including China,” said the spokesman, Geng Shuang. “We urge the United States to immediately correct this wrong approach and earnestly respect the legitimate rights and interests of all parties,”
The US Treasury said Thursday it had imposed sanctions on what it called a network of front companies and agents. It said they are based in Iran, China and Belgium. The Treasury gave no details but said the purchases violated UN restrictions on materials that can be used for nuclear programs.
They are the first sanctions by Washington since Tehran announced earlier this month it would increase its levels of enriched uranium.
Tehran announced on July 1 that it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, marking its first major step beyond the terms of the pact, within the framework of the deal, since the United States withdrew more than a year ago.
“Treasury is taking action to shut down an Iranian nuclear procurement network that leverages Chinese- and Belgium-based front companies to acquire critical nuclear materials,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The US Treasury said the companies acted as a procurement network for Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, which plays a pivotal in Iran’s uranium enrichment nuclear program through the production of centrifuges used in facilities belonging to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
AP and Reuters contributed to this story.