China says it will safeguard nuclear deal with Iran, defend Sino-Iranian ties

China will make efforts to safeguard the nuclear deal with Iran and defend the legitimate interests of Sino-Iranian relations, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

The ministry’s spokesman, Gao Feng, said at a news conference in response to a media question that China has not received warnings of Iranian oil sanctions from the Biden government.

China’s comments came after Reuters reported that Iran had “indirectly” transferred record volumes of oil to China in recent months, marked as supplies from Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, even with China’s customs data showing that none Iranian oil was imported in the first two months this year.

The increase in Iranian supply partially contributed to the $ 70 a barrel drop in Brent crude oil prices in mid-March.

U.S. President Joe Biden sought to resume talks with Iran over a nuclear deal abandoned by former President Donald Trump in 2018, although tough economic measures remain in place and Tehran insists that they be suspended before negotiations resume.

The United States and other Western powers that signed the 2015 agreement appear to be at odds with Tehran on which side should return to the agreement first, making it unlikely that American sanctions that have damaged Iran’s economy can be removed quickly.

However, OPEC member’s oil exports increased in January, after a fourth-quarter boost despite U.S. sanctions, in a sign that the end of Donald Trump’s term as U.S. president may be changing the behavior of buyer.

Iranian crude oil exports remain at high levels in March compared to last year, tanker Petro-Logistics said on Tuesday, adding signs of recovery in shipments.

The sanctions have caused a sharp drop in Iranian exports to China, India, Japan and South Korea since the end of 2018. These measures, and cuts in production by other OPEC + producers, have led to a restricted supply of crude oil from the East Medium in Asia, the main global oil market. Asia imports more than half of its crude oil from the Middle East.