The Hindu

China, Iran close to reach­ing trade and mil­i­tary part­ner­ship

This un­der­cuts U.S. ef­forts to iso­late the Tehran gov­ern­ment

- Far­naz Fas­sihi Steven Lee My­ers Military · U.S. News · Middle East News · Politics · Warfare and Conflicts · World Politics · China · Iran · Donald Trump · New York City · United States of America · Xi Jinping · Hassan Rouhani · Mohammad Javad Zarif · Barack Obama · Tehran

Iran and China have qui­etly drafted a sweep­ing eco­nomic and se­cu­rity part­ner­ship that would clear the way for bil­lions of dol­lars of Chi­nese in­vest­ments in en­ergy and other sec­tors, un­der­cut­ting the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to iso­late the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment be­cause of its nu­clear and mil­i­tary am­bi­tions.

The part­ner­ship, de­tailed in an 18-page pro­posed agree­ment ob­tained by The

New York Times, would vastly ex­pand Chi­nese pres­ence in bank­ing, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ports, rail­ways and dozens of other projects. In ex­change, China would re­ceive a reg­u­lar — and, ac­cord­ing to an Ira­nian of­fi­cial and an oil trader, heav­ily dis­counted — sup­ply of Ira­nian oil over the next 25 years.

Joint mil­i­tary train­ing

The doc­u­ment also de­scribes deep­en­ing mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion, po­ten­tially giv­ing China a foothold in a re­gion that has been a strate­gic pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of the United States for decades. It calls for joint train­ing and ex­er­cises, joint re­search and weapons de­vel­op­ment and in­tel­li­gence shar­ing — all to fight “the lop­sided bat­tle with ter­ror­ism, drug and hu­man traf­fick­ing and cross­bor­der crimes.” The part­ner­ship — first pro­posed by China’s leader, Xi Jin­ping, dur­ing a visit to Iran in 2016 — was ap­proved by Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani’s Cab­i­net in June, Iran’s For­eign Min­is­ter, Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, said last week. If put into ef­fect as de­tailed, the part­ner­ship would cre­ate new and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous flash­points in the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and the U.S.

It rep­re­sents a ma­jor blow to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ag­gres­sive pol­icy to­ward Iran since aban­don­ing the nu­clear deal reached in 2015 by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the lead­ers of six other na­tions af­ter two years of gru­elling ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Re­newed U.S. sanc­tions, in­clud­ing the threat to cut off ac­cess to the in­ter­na­tional bank­ing sys­tem for any com­pany that does busi­ness in Iran, have suc­ceeded in suf­fo­cat­ing the Ira­nian econ­omy by scar­ing away badly needed for­eign trade and in­vest­ment. But Tehran’s des­per­a­tion has pushed it into the arms of China, which has the tech­nol­ogy and ap­petite for oil that Iran needs. Iran has been one of the world’s largest oil pro­duc­ers, but its ex­ports, Tehran’s largest source of rev­enue, have plunged since the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan im­pos­ing sanc­tions in 2018; China gets about 75% of its oil from abroad and is the world’s largest im­porter, at more than 10 mil­lion bar­rels a day last year.

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