Marzieh Motahhari

Iran-China deal: The U.S. is defied

August 11, 2020 - 15:7

The Iran-China deal has been drawing a lot of attention. The yet-to-be finalized 25-year partnership has been strongly criticized by American officials, as it seems to threaten U.S. interests and hegemony, particularly in the West Asia region.

The mainstream media has also been actively trying to spread rumors about the deal including Chinese troop deployments, monopolization of oil sales at low prices, and transfer of Persian Gulf islands to Beijing’s control. Yet all such claims were rejected by Iranian officials who insisted that the long-term agreement was interest-based and that the relationship between the two countries would be costly for the U.S. and those who follow U.S. policies against Tehran.

However, the harshest criticisms come from the White House. In a recent interview with Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned against the trade deal between Tehran and Beijing, threatening Chinese state firms with sanctions. He claimed that “China’s entry into Iran will destabilize the Middle East (Wes Asia)”. In another similar remark, Pompeo accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and criticized the deal that would give Iran access to weapons systems. 

“Iran remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and for the Iranian regime to have access to weapons systems, money, and commerce from the Chinese Communist Party only compounds risk for the region,” he tweeted last week. 

Such remarks made by Pompeo and other U.S. officials show the significance of the economy and security deal that is against U.S. policies towards Iran.  In fact, the deal defies U.S. “maximum pressure” strategy against the country. 

The “Joint Statement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Islamic Republic of Iran and People’s Republic of China”, develops and deepens ties between Tehran and Beijing in 5 different domains: “political”, “executive cooperation”, “human and cultural”, “judiciary, security and defense”, and “regional and international”.

In the political domain, it is stated that the expansion of ties between the two “strategic partners” will contribute to “safeguarding the regional and global peace, stability and development.” The statement clarifies that both countries support the “core interests” of each other, including independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity.” Accordingly, Iran will remain committed to the “One-China policy” and China will support Iran’s “development plan” and also its increasing “role in regional and international affairs.” This contradicts U.S. policies towards Iran. In fact, the U.S. has always been trying to reduce Iran’s influence in the region and curb its power to change the political equations in West Asia and the larger world; however, based on the deal, China recognizes Iran’s influence and supports the role it plays. 

The “executive cooperation” domain in the statement also defies U.S. policies and sanctions against Iran, as the two countries agree to enhance “investment and trade exchanges and promote tangible cooperation” in so many different areas, including banking, mutual investment, financing, space, manufacturing industries, use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and renewable energies. They also agree to exchange technology and knowledge and cooperate in human resource training. This is while the U.S. has imposed embargoes on the export of so many different technologies, equipment, and resources to Iran and restricts exchange of knowledge with the country in certain fields. The latest round of sanctions against Iran was announced by Secretary Pompeo on July 31. 

“Today, I expanded the scope of Iran metals sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear, military, and ballistic missile programs. Knowingly transferring any of these 22 metals to Iran is now sanctionable. Our pressure will continue until Iran behaves like a normal nation,” Pompeo announced on his Twitter account. 

So with the deal in place, Iran will be able to bypass such sanctions and make them futile.

As for the human and cultural domain, the deal will enhance the cooperation between the two countries “in the fields of academic and higher education, exchange of professors and students, scientific cooperation and transfer of new technologies and execution of joint projects.” This way, Iran can have access to new technologies that have been so far prohibited by the U.S. from being transferred to the country by any means.

In the judiciary, security and defense domain, Tehran and Beijing agree to enhance cooperation in fields of military and defense, specifically in “human resource training, fighting terrorism and exchange of information, as well as equipment and technology.” This is against America’s efforts to prevent any arms or military technology from entering Iran or getting out of the country. In this respect, one of the latest U.S. efforts took place on June 30, when Pompeo proposed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council and urged the Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October- all in vain, though.

The last part of the statement includes regional and international issues. In fact, the deal insists on respecting “the national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of countries”. This totally contradicts U.S. policies in the region that are mainly based on interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Moreover, in this part of the statement, China reiterates its recognition of Iran’s effective role as a regional power, something that the U.S. does not approve of. Besides, Iran and China once again support the nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and believe it “contributes toward guaranteeing the peacefulness of Iran’s nuclear activities and results in the full realization of Iran’s legitimate rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. The U.S. however did not fulfill its commitments under the JCPOA and left the deal unilaterally.

So, a careful study of the “Joint Statement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China” clarifies the reasons behind America’s discontent with the deal. By this long-term agreement, Iran and China are defying the U.S. in different respects, and this is no good news for the U.S. interests and hegemony in the region and the world.


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