China has criticized new US sanctions on Iran, saying that the issue could worsen relations between the two countries, AFP reports.

Beijing urged Washington to lift the sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun over its transactions with Iran, adding that it violates the “norms of international relations”. The Bank of Kunlun, along with Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq were sanctioned for transactions worth millions of dollars with Iranian banks allegedly linked to Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Separately, the US Treasury Department said that Bank of Kunlun had transactions with at least six Iranian banks under US sanctions.

President Barack Obama said that the new economic sanctions underline the US’ determination to pressure Tehran “to meet its international obligations” and abandon its nuclear ambitions.

China will lodge an official protest and the foreign ministry stated “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to the new measures and called them “groundless”.