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Once again, it appears Robert Lighthizer and the Trump Administration's trade hawk faction have won over the more moderate advisors. Only a week ago, reports surfaced claiming the US might exempt China from Iran sanctions, for fear that the US would have no choice but to crack down otherwise (since Beijing has made clear exactly how it feels about Washington dictating which countries it can trade with).
Now, that idea, which was being pushed by senior State Department officials, has been abandoned, according to a Politico report. Instead, senior administration officials believe there's no avoiding the fact that Beijing has repeatedly violated the ban on importing Iranian crude.
Group - China - Hawks - National - Security
Because of this, a group of China hawks on the National Security Council are now pushing for the US to slap secondary sanctions on Chinese businesses. Aggressive tactics like this would almost certainly sink the recently revived and still extremely delicate 'trade truce' brokered between Trump and Xi in Osaka.
You might remember the exact violation in question. In June, a tanker carrying up to a million barrels of Iranian oil docked near the Chinese port city of Qingdao. Republican lawmakers complained, demanding that the Trump Administration pressure Beijing to stop these purchases. China later welcomed a second batch of Iranian oil since the waiver expired in May.
Problem - Beijing - Defiance - Administration - Efforts
The problem is Beijing's defiance is undermining the administration's efforts to drive Iranian exports to zero, the explicit goal of National Security Advisor John Bolton and the other Iran hawks.
So here we are, with the Iran hawks and...
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