31 March 2021   1 comment

China and Iran have signed a 25-year strategic partnership which poses a clear repudiation of The US’s strategy of pressuring Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The details of the partnership are a secret and observers have asserted that its goals are “aspirational”. According to The Guardian:

“Detailed work on the agreement has taken two years, with the bulk of the recent drafting undertaken by Ali Larijani, a former speaker of the Iranian parliament.

“Although the deal has been touted as being worth $400bn, the Chinese and the Iranian foreign ministries insist no detailed contracts have been signed, so valuations of this sort are largely worthless.

“The heart of the 25-year deal is an expansion of China’s presence in Iranian banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular and heavily discounted supply of Iranian oil.”

In many respects the deal appears to be consistent with China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” which it has worked out with a large number of Central Asian states. The deal, however, is a slap in the face of the US which has been trying to persuade the other signatories to the JCPOA to maintain stiff sanctions until Iran agrees to the JCPOA. The New York Times points out that “President Biden has offered to resume negotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear accord that his predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, abrogated three years after it was signed. American officials say both countries can take synchronized steps to bring Iran into compliance with the terms of the agreement while the United States gradually lifts sanctions. Iran has refused to do so, and China has backed it up, demanding that the United States act first to revive the deal it broke by lifting unilateral sanctions that have suffocated the Iranian economy. China was one of five world powers that, along with the U.S., signed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.” The Times is also reporting that China is seeking to revive its relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf States that normally oppose Iran.

China’s move comes as the US is seeking to restart negotiations with Iran. Politico reports:

“Biden administration officials, mindful of the increasingly unfavorable calendar, plan to put forth a new proposal to jump-start the talks as soon as this week, two people familiar with the situation told POLITICO.

“The proposal asks Iran to halt some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, in exchange for some relief from U.S. economic sanctions, said one of the people, who stressed that the details are still being worked out.

“It’s not at all certain that Iran will accept the terms. Earlier this year, Tehran rejected a U.S. proposal it deemed unacceptable, then offered its own idea that Biden’s team declared a non-starter, two people familiar with the situation said.

“Still, officials in both countries are aware that if no breakthrough takes place over the next few weeks, little is likely to happen until September at the earliest, and that’s if the deal can be saved at all. The warnings come as progressives pressure Biden to rejoin the deal and as some officials and analysts wonder if Biden is genuine about his stated desire to see the agreement revived.

“’Iran is poised to blow through additional nuclear deal restrictions in the next few weeks. This is the crucial time to avoid an escalation of the situation,’ said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an organization that has closely tracked nuclear negotiations involving Iran.”

There is a great deal of diplomatic movement in the Middle East as the US, Russia, and China are trying to formulate their policies toward the region. The Biden Administration has yet to clearly articulate its goals in the region and China seeks to take advantage of US indecision. It is interesting, however, to note how US influence in the region has declined so dramatically in such a short period of time. The Trump Administration’s intent of leveraging an Israeli/Saudi Arabian axis seems to have come to naught.

Posted March 31, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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  1. Pingback: 2 April 2021 | World Politics News

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