Iranian Leaders Heading To China, Russia As Nuclear Talks Continue

(New York, N.Y.) — This week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is reportedly set to meet with Chinese Communist Party officials to discuss deepening their economic relations and cooperation. Beijing agreed to a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran in 2021 that opens Iranian energy and infrastructure projects to Chinese investment in exchange for regular delivery of sanctioned Iranian oil and natural gas. In 2021, deliveries of Iranian oil to China averaged nearly 900,000 bpd and totaled more than 309 million for the year, according to United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) Tanker Tracker. Each delivery is a violation of U.S. sanctions. 

As UANI Senior Advisor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley recently noted in an op-ed in The Washington Post: 

“The Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping know that supporting Iran is good for Beijing and bad for America … There’s no world in which China’s involvement in the Middle East makes the United States safer.”

The ministerial meeting is set to occur as the regime announces Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will be traveling to Russia as well. Like China, the Kremlin has proven willing to engage in illicit activities with the Islamic Republic, including in violation of U.S. secondary sanctions when interests suit them. In a July meeting with Iranian officials last year, Russia’s energy minister voiced his hope that increased cooperation between the two countries would directly impact their ability to combat Western sanctions as they work on joint infrastructure and energy projects. 

Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have long favored a “Look to The East” approach, aspiring to form strategic ties with Russia and China, especially in the face of Western and U.S. pressure. The high-level engagement of the Iranian regime with Russian and Chinese officials may signal greater alignment among them at talks in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program. With the international arms embargo having expired on Iran in October 2020 under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. policymakers should also be on the lookout for arms transfers among these powers. Specifically fighter jets and an advanced satellite system that Russia has reportedly been preparing to supply to Tehran. 

To read UANI’s resource, Tehran’s Ties With Beijing and Moscow, please click here. 

To view UANI’s Tanker Tracker, please click here.