Iran hopes China ties will help it around US sanctions – analysis

Iran looks to the East and hopes for support. China may have other ideas.

 IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER Mohammad Javad Zarif and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows during the signing ceremony of a 25-year cooperation agreement, in Tehran, in March. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA/REUTERS)
IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER Mohammad Javad Zarif and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows during the signing ceremony of a 25-year cooperation agreement, in Tehran, in March.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA/REUTERS)

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, who is also the Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, spoke to his Chinese counterpart this week, according to reports in Iran. Tasnim News says that the “Senior Negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister, this evening [Wednesday, December 8] called Chinese Vice President Zhaosu to discuss the Vienna talks.”

This is important. Bagheri was seen leaving the Coburg Palais in Vienna on December 3 as Iran talks appeared to stall. They may now be moving forward, but Tehran is reaching out to Beijing for support. Iran and China signed a 25-year deal recently and Iran sees China as a future key partner.

Tehran and its proxies are increasingly looking east and believe the West is less relevant and that the US and the West are declining. It is only a matter of time, Iran thinks, before Russia, China, Turkey and other powers will mean that US sanctions are irrelevant.

The background here is interesting. On November 1, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu held a phone conversation with Bagheri at the latter’s request, China’s Foreign Ministry said at the time. “Both sides exchanged views on Iranian nuclear issues and reached extensive consensus. Both sides agreed to maintain close communication and coordination on relevant issues.”

What is happening this week? “Iran’s chief negotiator in the phone call referred to Beijing’s support for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s views on important issues, such as prioritizing the lifting of illegal US sanctions, and noted the wide range of cooperation between the two sides and the alignment of the two countries’ positions on many international issues, including the Vienna talks. He also appreciated receiving the guarantee from Iran,” Tasnim says.

China flag  (credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ECOW)China flag (credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ECOW)

“Explaining some of the proposals of the Iranian delegation in the form of draft texts submitted to other parties, Bagheri emphasized that the proposals of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been documented and reasoned and the most obvious action of the opposing parties against this constructive action is to state a documented and reasoned opinion on it.” He wants China to document its concerns about the US policy, it seems.

“In this telephone call, the Chinese deputy foreign minister stressed the usefulness and continuity of consultations and coordination between the parties in the continuation of the negotiation process, and expressed hope that the other parties would also contribute to the progress of the talks with a constructive approach,” the report says.

This is the usual diplomatic explanation, where not much is disclosed. However, the key point that Iran is sending is that it wants to rely on China in the future and coordinate with it closely on these issues. The goal is to continue talks in Vienna with the US but hold out hope that Beijing and Moscow will back Tehran more in the future.

This doesn’t mean they back Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. They want to build a multi-polar world and Iran is a key to their goals. They want to use Iran to distract the US and use it as a kind of blocking tackle running interference and blackmailing the West.