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Hong Kong officials rejected on Wednesday warnings from the U.S. that the autonomous city could face sanctions if it does business with an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in breach of the U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Hong Kong is strictly enforcing United Nations sanctions which don’t have “any restrictions on the export of petroleum from Iran,” a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau told Bloomberg, answering a question about the U.S. warning.
Earlier this week, the United States urged Hong Kong to be on the lookout for an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil presumably that may be on its way to China, in violation of U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.
Dismissing the U.S. warning, the spokesperson told Bloomberg on Wednesday:
“Certain countries may impose unilateral sanctions against certain places on the basis of their own considerations.”
“Those sanctions are outside the scope of the UN Security Council sanctions” that Hong Kong is abiding by, according to the Hong Kong official.
The oil tanker, known as the Pacific Bravo (formerly Silver Glory), was originally headed to Indonesia, Refinitive Eikon data showed, according to Reuters, but changed course on Monday to head toward Sri Lanka.
The Pacific Bravo flies under the Liberian flag, but a senior US official claims the oil tanker is owned by China’s Bank of Kunlun, which is the official handler of money between China and Iran. Bank of Kunlun is owned by CNPC’s financial arm, CNPC capital.
“Anyone who does business with this ship, the Pacific Bravo, would be exposing themselves to U.S. sanctions,” the senior official said, adding that the US will “enforce our Iran sanctions quite aggressively and quite consistently.”
China has historically been Iran’s largest crude oil customer, although Beijing has significantly increased its crude oil purchases from Saudi Arabia since the onset of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.