Clinton hints China could avoid oil sanctions

The United States and its allies allege that Iran’s uranium enrichment program is part of a move to build nuclear weapons, while Iranian officials say it is for peaceful purposes.

Actions against China could inflame tensions at a time when U.S. and Chinese officials are already at odds over trade in green energy goods and other matters.

“I have to certify under American laws whether or not countries are reducing their purchases of crude oil from Iran, and I was able to certify that India was, Japan was, South Korea was,” Clinton said at an appearance with former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, according to the Reuters account.

“And we think, based on the latest data, that China is also moving in that direction,” Clinton said.

U.S. officials on June 11 announced waivers for India, South Korea, South Africa and four other nations. Japan and European nations had already won the exemptions.

The officials, when announcing the most recent exemptions, said that talks were continuing with China.

“We are in discussions with China. It would be premature to comment further on where those discussions might lead,” a senior administration official said June 11.

“But as with China and with every other country that has been an importer of Iranian crude oil, we continue to outline what the legislation says, what the requirements are that we have to undertake, and we are, I think, engaged in a good-faith dialogue to be able to work toward a solution that in our view addresses the fundamental point here, which we have to address, which is, how do we reduce the volume of purchases of Iranian crude oil?” the official said.