The US-Iran relations have been treading heavy waters. While surveying the conditions of Middle East, it can be clearly seen that the Trump administration has clearly adopted the biased approach towards Iran. Iran under the US scope is a critical agent for creating international instability, which violates the security of its major partners. On the other hand, Iran holds similar perception about the US, which is largely governed by the US-Israeli nexus that persists within the system.
Therefore, Iran previously justified its acquisition of nuclear weapons under the notion that since the West has widely adopted a biased attitude towards Iran and its actions only disrupt the balances within the Middle East. Early onset, Trump administration clearly defined their perspective towards the JCPOA agreement between both states and believes that it was a huge misstep on part of his predecessor. The Trump administration alongside Israel has shown their clear disapproval towards the settlements of JCPOA. On the other hand, China maintained strong support towards the JCPOA and played a crucial hand in assisting Iran to escape its deep isolation period towards rejoining the global economy.
As the Trump administration is moving forward with banning the domestic finance industries from investing within Iran, reports suggest that US is pressurizing other European organizations as well to join along the US in the wideband which clearly refutes the settlements within JCPOA. However, it cannot be ignored how these limitations only attract Iran towards other potential partners who have enjoyed sound diplomatic relations for decades. Such examples can be of China and Russia.
The debate of town persists to be that the further US attempts to restrict Iran’s ambitions to pursue a more multi-vectored foreign policy in the international arena, China and Russia will present itself as a core partner to overcome its challenges. Evidence already suggests how China and Russia are actively utilizing their global position to aid Iran evade international pressures.
Though Iran is suffering from riots within the state, however, the need of society is heading more towards overcoming their respective economic challenges. If the government within Iran successfully manages to meet the demands of the public, the community will regain its trust in the government. Therefore, under these circumstances China and Russia appear to be more reliable partners, in addition, Iran’s military ties with Russia, China, and North Korea are also generally focused upon Iranian arms purchases and upgrades.
China has provided Iran with advanced Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs) and allegedly has also aided Iran in the development of its Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs). In recent years Iran has also ordered 150 advanced J-10 fighter jets from China. Plus, China has also been engaging with Iran to conduct joint military exercises and have also signed a military cooperation agreement which further emphasizes upon their shared interests of combatting terrorism and promoting regional security. Apart from that China is also eager in joining Iran within its OBOR project, as for China strategic diplomatic relations with Iran can aide in its larger geopolitical goals. Apart from that Iran and China also signed a memorandum on the development of Tehran-North Freeway.
For Iran, though the JCPOA agreement limits its acquisition of nuclear weapons, it can still pursue its civilian nuclear program for energy purpose e.g. Bushehr plant constructed by Russia. In November 2014, talks amidst both states proceeded to engage in the installation of two more units in Bushehr and options for extending the number to six nuclear plants were also discussed. The completed units were handed over to Iran during April 2016, the launching of Bushehr plant’s second and third units are scheduled for October 2024 and April 2026 respectively.
These developments according to reports will assist Iran’s demand for electric power up to 6 % to 15 % in the coming years. Furthermore, Iran is also engaged in the preliminary stages of building its “nuclear hospital” in its capital city at a cost of $335 million, the aim is to develop a special center that will offer advanced radiotherapy.
The recent release of US report titled as National Posture Review (NPR) ensured at US ambitions of developing smaller nuclear weapons to sustain effective deterrence capabilities. With the release of this report, China alongside Russia and Iran has shown clear disapproval towards US ambitions. China claims that these developments showcase US cold war mentality which will further complicate the securities within the international community. The report also marks China, Russia, North Korea and Iran as potential threats. This creates increased chances of nuclear warfare amidst involved actors furthermore as recent reports indicate how China recently carried out successful tests of its anti-missile system.
Other reports also indicate North Korea’s claimed success of its Hwasong-15 Intercontinental Ballistic System (ICBMs). In regards to the tensions within the Korean peninsula, China and Russia have both opposed US missile defense shield installation in South Korea, claiming that these developments ultimately undermines their respective securities due the credibility of the radar. On the other hand, due to the South China Sea issue, China has been increasing its naval might via developing robust maritime Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) capabilities, if China desires under the current setting of JCPOA it can assist Iran to acquire similarly (A2/AD) capabilities that Iran can further enhance its foothold in the Strait of Hormuz.
It is more likely that Iran will continue to opt for policies that will strengthen its regional standing via successive exploitation of its natural reserves. Secondly, Iran already shares strong bilateral relations with China and Russia despite having a few conflicting interests. Under these current challenges, Iran appears to be a lucrative market for Chinese and Russian armaments. Thirdly, with the US opting a more isolationist approach towards Iran and its support of Saudi Arabia and Israel allows Iran to play an offensive-defensive game as well as pose a unique challenge towards the US.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.