This Saturday Iran and China signed onto a 25-year co-operation deal, which spells a complete failure of the US “Maximum pressure” sanctions campaign. The agreement also seems to represent a disaster of the Biden administration’s attempt to isolate Iran and undermine China, only bringing the two closer together.
The precise details of the deal are yet to be released, but what we know from an 18-page draft leaked to the public in August of 2019, is that the deal is damning for the US. From what we understand of the deal, China is looking to invest up to 400 billion in Iran within the first 5-year stage of the deal, largely focusing on developing its petrochemical infrastructure as well as its transport and manufacturing infrastructure. The deal is both an economic and security agreement and will likely work to integrate Iran into China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.
US President Joe Biden, prior to coming into office, promised to pursue re-entering the JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal, which would have deescalated tensions with Iran, but has so far refused to take the steps necessary to achieving that goal. Biden’s approach has been to further demonize Iran, maintaining the exact same approach as his predecessor Donald Trump. The US government has also now worked to challenge, sanction and attack China to an even greater extent, with the aim of weakening Beijing, but are yet to see any results.
Instead of seeing a crippled Iran and a weakened China, the US has only forced the two further together. If maritime trade agreements are struck, Iran’s relevance in world trade will expand greatly. China’s growing influence in the region could even lead to a future trade route through Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. It is also worth noting that China has very much been attempting to secure its influence in all of these countries, with Iran being the first step to expanding its power in the Middle-East.
China will look to secure itself hydrocarbons from its 25-year pact with Iran, fueling its ever growing economy, also securing further control in the Indian Ocean. In addition to this, it is likely that China may end up supplying Iran with greater air defense technology, including new early-warning systems which would enable it to better defend itself from possible US or Israeli government attacks.
If anything, the development of Tehran’s military capabilities as a result of this deal with China, is a huge loss for the United States. Israel and the US had hoped that by sanctioning Iran, they would be able to turn the country’s people on their government, weaken it militarily, and put it in a vulnerable position. Despite having failed to achieve their goals through their aggressive policies, they refuse to adapt, and for this they are paying the price.
Iran is now more militarily capable than it was prior to the signing of the JCPOA and – in response to the acts committed against them – has pursued more aggressive policies towards its enemies,. In the event that this deal with China goes to plan, we are now seeing that Iran has found a way to remedy its problems.
It is still possible that the Chinese government will not live up to its commitments, which has happened in the case of past deals to expand Iran’s oil infrastructure. But considering the importance of Iran to China at this point, as part of their ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, it would not be in their interests to have signed a deal they can’t live up too. Iran being so rich in petrochemicals could even technically provide a life-line, enabling China to withstand a US blockade over Sea Lines of Communication.
As China is currently under such attack from Western Nations, China has seen an opportunity to act in defiance of the West and grabbed it with both hands – whilst Iran has also acted in a similar manner.
The immaturity displayed by both the Biden administration and Trump administration, has ended up doing more harm to the US and its allies than good. If they proceed in a professional and rational manner from this point on, the US government may be able to salvage some of its partnerships, but its current approach has been rendered completely ineffective.
The JCPOA may now look more tempting to Washington, as Iran seeks to pursue other options, excluding the West. If we see a continuation of the hardline stance, sticking to the current sanctions model, it may be indicative of a coming era of military escalation across the Middle East.
This is especially the case if the US wishes to solve the problem of Chinese influence in the region by illegally bombing and occupying territory in countries such as Iraq and Syria. This strategy of keeping countries in a constant State of instability, may be enough to deter investment, but is not a long-term plan for success and will likely drown them out of the region in time.