The United States should not use “extreme pressure” to resolve issues with Iran, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Tuesday, amid a standoff following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when the two tankers were attacked. The United States has blamed on Iran, more than a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has denied having any role in the attacks, and on Monday said it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.
The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told reporters at a briefing that China was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf, and called on all sides to ease tension and not head toward a clash.
“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said.
“In particular, the U.S. side should alter its extreme pressure methods. Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law,” Wang said, warning that it could create “an even greater crisis”.
Wang also said that the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue, and he urged Iran to be prudent.
“We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement,” he said.
China and Iran have close energy ties, and China has been angered by U.S. threats against countries and companies that violate U.S. sanctions by importing Iranian oil.
China has had to walk a fine line as it has also been cultivating relations with Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, which is also the Asian giant’s top oil supplier.
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concern about a threat from Iran.