Efforts by the Trump administration to choke off Iran's oil exports are being thwarted by China, which has refused to stop buying crude in the face of reimposed United States sanctions, according to a Bloomberg report published Friday.
Trump's policies are already putting significant pressure on the Iranian economy, although US intelligence suggests they may ultimately rally Iranians against the United States and strengthen Iran's hardline rulers, officials say.
In return, United Nations-approved sanctions were lifted, and Iran was allowed to resume trading oil and gas on the worldwide market.
The US administration has vowed to impose sanctions on any company continuing to buy oil from Iran after the November 4 deadline.
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In June, the US state department said that countries buying oil from Iran should bring down to zero their Iranian crude imports by the time Washington re-imposes sanctions on November 4.
Iran launched a naval exercise in the Gulf on Thursday, just days before the United States reimposes sanctions on Tehran, a defence official told AFP.
Unfazed, the administration has warned that even allies would face sanctions if they didn't show significant progress in reducing Iranian oil purchases by November 4, ruling out broad exemptions or waivers.
In May, the United States pulled out of a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which global sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
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Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Sunday it had held war games in the Gulf over the past several days, saying they were aimed at "confronting possible threats" by enemies, the state news state news agency IRNA reported.
Also last month, China, which is Iran's biggest customer, said it did not accept unilateral sanctions against Iran.
On 7 August, Washington will reimpose sanctions on Iran's purchase of U.S. dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals and its dealings with metals, coal and industrial-related software.
When pressed by CNBC to answer the questions she was raising, Croft replied, "I think this market will tighten at the end of this year", and added that Venezuelan production continues to fall and will be a contributing factor.
According to data compiled by the agency, China boosted its purchases of Iranian oil in July, snapping up more than a third of the country's total exports.
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