By Mohammad Mazhari

U.S. sanctions bring Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran together: Russian academic

September 18, 2020 - 23:18

TEHRAN - An associate professor in the Department of Comparative Politics at Russia’s RUDN University believes that the United States' sanctions are one of the factors that bring Iran, Russia, and China together.

Russia, China, and Iran are expanding economic and political ties as a result of U.S. pressure policy, Vladimir Ivanov tells the Tehran Times.
"One of the forces that bring these countries together is U.S. sanctions pressure, which affects Iran, Russia, and China," the Russian academic says.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Some analysts and politicians argue that Russia, China, and Iran are forming an alliance against Washington's bullying, sanctions pressure, and use of the dollar as a weapon. They cite the Iran-China-Russia joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman in December 2019 as the signs of such an alliance. What is your comment?
A: Today, many experts see Russia, Iran, and China's military exercises as a "Maritime security Belt" in the Northern Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea as the end of American hegemony in the Persian Gulf.
Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran have begun to outline a possible security system in the most important part of the world's oceans. Contrary the U.S. is trying to promote a naval coalition's idea to "protect" shipping in the region. So, Washington announced the formation of the International Maritime security coalition (IMSC) under its auspices.  Also, Washington began to realize that Tehran is not isolated and will not be left alone, that the Iranians have serious partners who are ready to support them in the region.
But will this initiative lead to the emergence of a military-political Alliance "Russia-Iran-China" is premature, but we record a noticeable change in the Middle East (West Asia) and Southeast Asia's power balance.
Q: Economic and scientific ties between Iran and Russia are not commensurate to their political ties. This is despite the fact that the two countries are immediate neighbors with rather large populations and great untapped potential. What are the impediments?
A: Russia, China, and Iran are expanding economic and political ties. One of the forces that bring these countries together is U.S. sanctions pressure, which affects Iran, Russia, and China. These countries already do not use U.S. dollars in mutual trade, but their national currencies. And they create special mechanisms to circumvent U.S. sanctions. In addition, Iran is preparing new agreements on long-term cooperation with China and Russia. The Iran-Russia cooperation agreement expires in March, so the newly updated treaty is likely to develop a long-term comprehensive strategic agreement.
At the same time, Iran continues negotiations with China on a 25-year partnership, which many Iranian officials called a "turning point" in relations between Tehran and Beijing.
Q: What is your analysis of the course of action that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has taken?  What steps are needed to make the EAEU effective like other economic blocs such as ASEAN? 
The recent establishment of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Indonesia is a decisive step towards creating a full-fledged trade zone with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Recently the volume of mutual trade between the EAEU and the ASEAN is not high enough. Integration associations need to expand trade, economic, and investment cooperation, including the development of the initiative of the large Eurasian economic partnership.

In October 2019, the agreement on trade and economic cooperation of the Eurasian Economic Union with China came into force. Although this agreement is "only" a framework agreement, it creates a platform where representatives of the EAEU member states and China can discuss existing barriers to mutual trade and ways to overcome them. The next step could be the creation of a free trade zone between the EAEU and China. But this is not a short-term prospect.
Q:  Is it technically and geographically possible that China also joins the club like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes countries from  Europe and Asia? 
A: In October 2019, the agreement on trade and economic cooperation of the Eurasian Economic Union with China came into force. Although this agreement is "only" a framework agreement, it creates a platform where representatives of the EAEU member states and China can discuss existing barriers to mutual trade and ways to overcome them. The next step could be the creation of a free trade zone between the EAEU and China. But this is not a short-term prospect.
Q: The U.S. intelligence agencies have claimed that Russia, China, and Iran are seeking to influence the result of the November elections in America. Please give your answer?
A: This is mostly a conspiracy theory that is popular in the U.S. But all these media and political commotions are supported only by public speculation about hacker attacks.
Q: Please give your view of the U.S. failure at the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran.
A: Even though Washington has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, it still uses its mechanisms. However, at the UN, no one except the Dominican Republic supported the U.S.-proposed extension of the arms embargo against Iran. In any case, the whole issue of the Iranian arms embargo still looks rather symbolic. Tehran could already acquire some types of weapons — such as air defense systems.

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