November 01, 2023

Gallego, Bacon Urge State and Treasury Stop Illicit Iranian Oil Exports to China

WASHINGTON, D.C. Reps. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Don Bacon (NE-02) called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter to use the tools of the federal government at its disposal to stem the flow of illicit Iranian oil sales to China to halt Iran’s financing, arming, and training of terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

“These increasingly sophisticated exports from Iran to China are helping fuel Iran’s malign influence throughout the region, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah in the process,” the members write.

As the letter states, Iran sends China an estimated 1.5 million barrels a day of crude oil, largely through smaller, semi-private refiners in Shandong known as “teapots.”

This helps obscure the role of the Chinese government in illicit oil purchases from Iran and shield larger Chinese firms and the Chinese Communist Party from exposure to the U.S. financial system and associated sanctions.

That’s why Reps. Gallego and Bacon requested Secs. Blinken and Yellen answer the following questions:

  1. What is the administration’s plan to stem the flow of illicit Iranian oil sales to China?
  2. How is the administration preparing for an expected rise in oil prices resulting from instability in the Middle East?
  3. How will the U.S. counter the economic benefits buyers might derive from buying discounted Iranian oil?
  4. Is the administration planning to increase interdiction of illicit Iranian exports?
  5. What steps are the administration taking to deter Iran from attacks against Western shipping?
  6. What, if any new sanctions are the administration planning to put in place on Iran?

“Iran’s evasion of sanctions constitutes a clear and present danger not only to our allies, but to America’s forward operating forces in the Middle East. It is therefore critical that we do everything in our power to stop the financing of Iranian-backed terrorism,” the members conclude in the letter.

Rep. Gallego previously called for the freezing of Iranian assets, including the $6 billion that was recently unfrozen in a prisoner swap, and joined Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08) in a letter calling for the Biden Administration to take specific actions on Iranian assets.