The Obama Administration is reportedly pressing for a special exemption for China and other permanent members of the UN Security Council from the unilateral sanctions against Iran being pushed through Congress.
China in particular has a significant trading relationship with Iran, and has opposed international sanctions repeatedly. Key petrochemical companies in Britain and France could also be protected by this exemption as well, but China is the most controversial.
Particularly angered are key US allies South Korea and Japan, who would stand to lose considerable trading relationships with Iran to the sanctions and would not get the special exemption China would.
Congress is keen on pushing forward the sanctions, but the exemption will likely be a tough sell. Senators note that President Obama would under the existing bill already have the power to subjectively enforce the sanctions at any rate, and would likely shy away from taking the blame for watering them down.