US President Donald Trump said Tuesday (September 24th) that sanctions on Iran would be further increased unless it halts its "fanatical" weapons drive and "aggression" in the Middle East, AFP reported.
"Hoping to free itself from sanctions, the regime has escalated its violent and unprovoked aggression," Trump told the UN General Assembly in New York.
"As long as Iran's menacing behaviour continues, sanctions will not be lifted -- they will be tightened," he said.
On Wednesday, the US announced sanctions on Chinese companies for buying Iranian oil.
"Today we're imposing sanctions on certain Chinese entities for knowingly transporting oil from Iran contrary to US sanctions," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Speculation has been rife over whether Trump and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani would finally meet on the sidelines of the general assembly -- with European leaders attempting to arrange talks aimed at defusing soaring tensions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Iran's demands for US sanctions relief were "unrealistic" as she met separately with the rival nations' presidents.
"I would naturally be happy if there were talks between the US and Iran," she said.
But she dismissed Iran's demands that the US lift all its sanctions before any high-level talks can take place.
"I think that that is unrealistic," she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are also meeting both leaders as part of an international push to defuse tensions.