China to send Iran gasoline

As UN mulls sanctions, Beijing fills void left by European firms.

iranian chinese flags 311 (photo credit: AP)
iranian chinese flags 311
(photo credit: AP)
SINGAPORE — A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.
Beijing has growing commercial and political ties with Iran and has resisted US pressure for sanctions to press Teheran to abandon its nuclear program. Chinese officials say the country is entitled to energy trade.
Unipec, the trading arm of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, plans to load the oil tanker Hongbo with the gasoline Thursday in Singapore, said the brokers, who asked not to be identified further to avoid jeopardizing customer relations.
They said the tanker will likely go directly to Iran.
The gasoline shipment suggests Chinese refiners are moving to fill the void left by European suppliers, who halted sales to Iran earlier this year.
A deputy Chinese foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, said Tuesday that Chinais ready to discuss all ideas that UN Security Council members putforward to deal with Iran's nuclear program. But he said any agreementon Iran must involve all parties, not just one or two countries.
Cui said Iran's legitimate right to have energy trade with othercountries should not be undermined as the world pursues a settlement ofthe nuclear standoff. Beijing's position on energy could make it moredifficult for the United States and China to resolve differences onIran.
Iran denies it intends to build an atomic bomb, and despite widespreadconcern about its intentions, President Barack Obama is havingdifficulty getting agreement on a new set of UN sanctions. He saidTuesday that his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, assured him thatBeijing would participate in drafting sessions at the United Nations onstrong sanctions.