Trump Officials: China Gets No ‘Wind-Down’ Period for Cutting Iran Oil Purchases

US expects China to stop buying oil by May 1

In comments that may set up a catastrophic amount of fallout in international trade, officials from the Trump Administration say that China will absolutely not be given any time to “wind-down” their purchases of Iranian oil, nor any extensions beyond May 1.

China is by far Iran’s largest customer, and would have by far the hardest time sourcing enough replacement oil on the market. These comments are likely to have an impact on the oil market, pushing prices higher, and more importantly, risking a US ultimatum on China.

The implication of the waiver loss is that any country that buys Iranian oil after May 1 will be cut off from the US, and by extension the world’s, banking system. Doing that with China, a major US trading partner and a huge economic power, would be catastrophic to the world economy.

US officials are dismissing this as a concern, saying they believe the huge consequences are exactly why China will ultimately cave to US demands. China, however, has long insisted they can’t afford to stop buying from Iran, and under the P5+1 nuclear deal, of which they are still a party, they are under no obligation to stop. China may feel compelled to keep trading with Iran both to show good faith in their negotiations, and because they just flat out need the oil to keep their economy running.

This would put the Trump Administration on the spot, trying to show that their ability to dictate global commerce remains intact. Though doing so would cause major harm to the US and world economy, the administration may feel obligated to do so just to assert its dominance.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.