China, Iran Mull Closer Ties To Undermine U.S. Sanctions & Influence

(New York, N.Y.) – Iranian and Chinese bilateral relations are showing signs of increasing strategic importance to both nations as officials in Tehran have publicly commented on discussions which may lead to a historic 25-year “road map” for comprehensive cooperation. Such an agreement would build upon the already warm ties between the regime and the Chinese Communist Party that likely contribute to Beijing’s opposition to maintaining the UN’s international arms embargo beyond October 2020. In fact, Iran has already indicated receipt of proposals from China for the purchase of its fighter jets, potentially its J-10 aircraft.

According to the Jerusalem Post, discussions of a potential deal first cropped up in Iranian state-run media outlets in June and later were corroborated by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Though specific details have not been made public, the bilateral discussions represent an extension of the commitments each government has made to undermine the U.S. and the regional security paradigm.

Beijing’s interest in an agreement reflects its determination to provide dangerous and dictatorial regimes with pathways for circumventing U.S. sanctions and extend valuable economic lifelines. Last month, as Iranian oil tankers made their first-ever deliveries to Venezuela in defiance of international sanctions, the Maduro regime celebrated more than 618 projects developed in strategic association with China. Beijing is also part of an economic pipeline between Caracas and Tehran, with the U.S. Treasury Department finding that “Mahan Air is currently operating charter flights to Venezuela for Iranian technicians and technical equipment, using materials sourced from China.”

United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) resource, The Russia-China-Iran Axis, analyzes the ways in which Xi Jinping and his predecessors have enabled Iran’s malign behavior. The present coordination and cooperation efforts are a continuation of burgeoning strategic ties between Tehran and Beijing – and underscores how China is unencumbered by concerns over Iran’s illicit domestic and regional conduct and happy to continue doing business with the regime. UANI’s Iran Tanker Update: June 2020 tracked several vessels that continued to deliver crude oil to China throughout June.

There is considerable historical precedent for China helping Tehran weather international storms dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. China was one of the only countries willing to provide Iran with weapons and military equipment during the Iran-Iraq War, although it was also a large indirect supplier of military equipment to Iraq. China later emerged as a vital player in post-war reconstruction efforts and has remained engaged in the development of Iranian infrastructure, with a significant footprint in the construction of dams, factories, airports, roadways, and Tehran’s subway system. Iran is currently a linchpin in Beijing’s signature “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which aims to invest more than $1 trillion in infrastructure, connecting over 60 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

To read UANI’s resource, The Russia-China-Iran Axis, please click here.

To read UANI’s Iran Tanker Update: June 2020, please click here.