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China and Iran to Implement Strategic Agreement

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On Saturday, China announced the beginning of the execution of a strategic deal with Iran. This agreement will strengthen economic and political ties between them, in response to US sanctions against Tehran.

Read further for details.

China-Iran Reach Strategic Deal

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After years of negotiations, China and Iran reached a deal last year. This new deal covers a wide range of issues- including energy, security, infrastructure, and communications.
At a meeting in Wuxi, east China, on Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian declared the partnership’s implementation. Beijing’s foreign ministry made it public through a statement.

Deal Details yet to be revealed, Charged World Arena

Although few specifics of the confidential pact have been revealed, the New York Times reported in 2020 that it would ensure a regular supply of oil for China. The report cited a draft of the agreement leaked to the public as support for its claims.

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China officially stopped purchasing Iranian oil in 2018 after the then-US president Trump placed sweeping unilateral sanctions against Iran. However, analysts claim continued imports of Iranian crude oil into China under the cover of other goods. China is also Iran’s leading trade partner.

During a 2016 visit to Iran, Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to the country as “China’s major partner in the Middle East”. The encounter between Mr. Wang and Mr. Amir-Abdollahian comes in an increasingly charged global environment. Talks in Vienna continue over a possible deal to freeze Tehran’s nuclear weapons development.

US-Iran Problems

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Several countries in the world, mainly the US, had placed sanctions on Iran for developing allegedly illegal nuclear weapons in the past. The United States, in particular, had placed sweeping economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against the country since 1979. In 2015, however, the US, China, Russia, UK, France and Germany agreed to lift sanctions in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear program.

However, the United States withdrew from the accord in 2018. It further re-imposed harsh penalties on the Middle-Eastern nation, forcing Tehran to backtrack on its obligations. After Iran elected a new ultra-conservative government in June, talks to save the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in late November.

Mr. Wang informed his Iranian counterpart on Friday that China holds the US responsible for the deal’s current situation, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.

25-Year Strategic Partnership

In March 2021, Iran and China signed another agreement- the 25-year strategic partnership. Many analysts have viewed this as a deal to benefit the two countries in their joint opposition to the US. According to Bradley Browman and Zane Zovak, two political analysts, growing Beijing-Tehran relations is a serious threat to crucial US concerns. Such partnership plans allow China to carve a space for itself in the Middle East while securing its access to the rich oil and other natural resources of the region. On the other hand, Iran can benefit from Chinese financial aid in the form of energy and infrastructure investment. Chinese support will also diminish the effectiveness of US sanctions against Iran.

Last September, the China and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization unilaterally raised Iran to full membership in the body. The SCO, on its part, is an intergovernmental agency aimed at addressing political, economic and security issues across Eurasia. Iran’s growing involvement with China has security implications for US interests in the region.

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