Barack Obama and key members of his cabinet have pressed Beijing to do more to help rein in Iran's nuclear activities, and Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue during his recent visit to China, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told, Reuters reported.
Obama, Biden and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton "all have stressed the need for continued Chinese restraint in investing in Iran's energy sector, by slowing down existing activities and by not concluding any new deals," said Hayden.
U.S. officials have literally come knocking at the doors of Chinese energy executives, one of the executives said.
"The Chinese are quietly taking credit with U.S. officials for being cooperative" on Iran, a senior U.S. Congressional aide who closely follows U.S.-China relations told Reuters.
"I really date it back to mid-to-late 2010, when they began to signal to us very clearly: 'We can't say it publicly, but you will notice that we're not proceeding with these new contracts,'" said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of diplomacy with China.
The slowing of China's energy investments in Iran was prompted, at least partly, by Beijing's efforts since late 2010 to ease tension with the Obama administration and cut the risk of Chinese oil firms being hit by U.S. sanctions that Congress has vigorously backed, said officials.
China is one of the only powers on the international political stage capable of providing the billions of dollars of investment Tehran needs to maintain the capacity of its strategic oil sector.
Iran's refusal to abandon its nuclear activities has resulted in resolutions adopted by the
UN Security Council in 2010, as well as additional unilateral sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress and the foreign ministers of all EU countries, which were primarily directed against the banking, financial and energy sectors of Iran.
Restrictions imposed by the EU include the ban on the sale of equipment, technologies and services to Iran's energy sector which is a major source of revenue for the Iranian regime; the same measure refers to the refining industry.
Last September, expanded U.S. sanctions on Iran there have prompted four of Europe's five biggest oil companies - Total, Statoil, Eni and the RD/Shell - to stop investing in Iran. Later, in October, Inpex, Japan's top oil explorer, announces withdrawal from Iran's Azadegan oil field project to avoid U.S. sanctions. Inpex has invested $153 million in this giant project.