President Joe Biden has urged President Xi Jinping of China to leverage his influence in persuading Iran to refrain from actions that could escalate the Israel-Hamas war.
The two leaders met Wednesday in San Francisco and discussed a variety of difficult issues, including the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
US officials told Reuters that the Chinese foreign minister assured the American party that China has conveyed concerns to Iran on the matter.
Since 2020, China has increased the volume of oil imports from Iran despite US sanctions. Small Chinese refineries buy the oil, which is shipped in illicit ways.
Iran reportedly exported 1.4 million barrels of oil per day last month, mostly to China. This is almost twice as much as it averaged during Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign from 2018-2020, according to United Against Nuclear Iran.
The Biden administration says it enforces existing sanctions, but the fact is that China's Iranian oil imports more than doubled sine President Biden took office.
Republicans criticize the Biden administration for refilling the regime’s coffers even after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Senator Ted Cruz is one such voice.
“Biden bears responsibility for the terrorist attacks on Israel,” said the Senator. “Since he took office, he has gifted Iran nearly $100 billion dollars. That money has been used to fund Hamas terrorists. It’s time for the Biden admin to stop letting billions flow to terrorists who want to bring death and destruction to America and our allies.”
On Wednesday, a White House Energy Adviser Amos Hochstein said that the US will toughen up on Iran oil sanctions to curb the Islamic Republic’s revenue.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, he confirmed that Iran’s oil export has risen to “somewhere in the elevated area above one million barrels” per day.
“We are going to enforce the sanctions,” Hochstein said, “those numbers will come down.”
The Biden administration has just granted Iraq a new 4-month waiver that allows it to pay Iran for electricity, effectively giving the regime in Iran access to an estimated $10 billion.
The decision has enraged many in Congress, especially at a time when American troops in Iraq and Syria are attacked by Iran-backed groups daily.
“Joe Biden just green lit $10B to Iran,” GOP 2024 Presidential candidate Nikki Haley exclaimed on X. “Iran's proxies are targeting American troops abroad… Biden needs to wake up—we look like fools paying terrorists who attack us and chant Death to America."
The US State Department says the waiver comes with a thorough vetting process to ensure that any money released to Iran is used exclusively for non-sanctioned goods such as food.
But critics of the move say money is fungible and the funds made available to the regime in Iran, however thoroughly vetted, would free up other funds that can be used for malign activities.
“Biden’s administration gifted another sanctions waiver for Iran to access $10 billion,” Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis posted on X. “Add this on top of the $6 billion ransom payment… on 9/11 and the lax oil sanctions keeping the mullahs flush with cash from China. All the while, Iran… proxies attack U.S. forces,”
“Reckless and dangerous doesn’t even begin to describe the wreckage Biden is leaving behind,” said the GOP 2024 Presidential candidate.
Congressional Republicans say Biden’s Iran policy has emboldened the regime and has to be reversed. They are expected to try and do this through legislation Thursday, introducing a bill to refreeze the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that was unfrozen in September as part of a deal that brought back five Iranian-Americans who were held hostage in Iran.