The comments from Beijing and Berlin signalled growing anger from partners of the United States, which reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, over its threat to penalise businesses from third countries that continue to operate there.
“China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“China’s commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions,” it added in a faxed statement to Reuters.
“China’s lawful rights should be protected.”
The German government said U.S. sanctions against Iran that have an extra-territorial effect violate international law, and Germany expects Washington to consider European interests when coming up with such sanctions.
Other governments have every reason to resist the Trump administration on this issue. Secondary sanctions are obviously a threat to their economic interests, but they are especially obnoxious because they are an attempt to impose our government’s policy preferences on other states and to treat them as if they are U.S. vassals. The U.S. has no legitimate grounds for sanctioning Iran over its nuclear program, so that makes the attempt to coerce other states into helping the U.S. strangle Iran’s economy even worse. The administration is effectively trying to punish all of the other parties to the JCPOA for adhering to an agreement that our government is violating, and it is threatening all of Iran’s other trading partners for engaging in legal commerce.
There was an international consensus in favor of pressuring Iran before the nuclear negotiations because there was broad agreement that this was necessary to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained peaceful. Now that there is a deal in place that ensures that, there is no legitimate reason for any other governments to cooperate with the U.S. in sanctioning Iran on this issue. Trump’s Iran policy is illegitimate in the eyes of almost every other government in the world, and the only thing it can succeed in doing is inflicting harm on the Iranian people for no good reason. The policy will fail on its own terms, and in the process it will do significant damage to U.S. interests and relationships with the world’s leading economic powers. The administration’s Iran policy is a senseless, destructive one that needs to be challenged and reversed as soon as possible.