Multibillion-Dollar China–Iran Deal: The Implication for Israel

July 14, 2020

by: Ilse Strauss

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President Xi Jinping of China with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (illustrative)

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 | While US President Donald Trump pushes ahead with a “maximum pressure” campaign to dissuade the mullahs in Tehran from their nuclear ambitions, China is rushing to Tehran’s aid with a 25-year multibillion dollar economic and security deal that is guaranteed to take the pressure off.

According to the New York Times, which obtained a copy of the 180-page agreement marked “final version” and dated June 2020, the accord details a Chinese investment of US $400 billion over the next quarter of a century flowing into Iranian banking, energy, cyber, telecommunications and transport sectors. In exchange, Iranian oil will flow to China at a sharply reduced rate for the next 25 years.

The agreement also promises close military cooperation between the two nations, including joint weapons research and development, combined military training and intelligence sharing.

In the document, Iran and China hail each other as “two ancient Asian countries…with a similar outlook” that “will consider one another strategic partners.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed the partnership during a visit to Iran in 2016, the New York Times reports. Over the next four years, Beijing and Tehran had apparently been working behind the scenes to hammer out the details of the accord. Negotiations have now reportedly concluded and as soon as the agreement is approved by the Iranian parliament, the Chinese cash coffers will open for Iran, and the Iranian oil fields for China.

While the tangible gains to both nations are obvious, the intangible benefits are equally pertinent—not only for China and Iran, but also for Israel and the US.

Since the US’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018, President Trump has persistently tightened the vice grip of crippling sanctions in an effort to make Iran toe the nuclear line. The Chinese influx will not only negate Washington’s efforts to isolate the Iranian government, it also threatens to curtail the impact it had so far. Israel and the US have also appealed to the UN Security Council members to extend the arms embargo on Iran that expires in October. However, China is sticking up for its strategic partner at the UN, opposing the attempts to activate the snapback sanctions.

The partnership also affords China a significant military and economic foothold in the Middle East, which sets off alarm bells for the US. However, Israel clearly has the most to lose.

“Any dollar going into the Iranian system is one that can likely be spent against Israel,” Carice Witte, executive director of SIGNAL, a think tank for Israel–China relations, told the Jerusalem Post.

This holds particularly true where military cooperation is concerned. Iran has made it clear on numerous occasions that it actively seeks Israel’s destruction. It thus stands to reason that “any of the new resources directed to the Islamic Republic’s army can potentially—and likely will—be turned on Israel,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

As part of the agreement, Iran can also look forward to a massive cache of advanced Chinese weapons. According to a Pentagon report, China is ready to sell attack helicopters, fighter jets and tanks to Iran as soon as the arms embargo expires in October. And with Iran using every soapbox to boast about the imminent annihilation of the Jewish state, it takes no guesswork to determine at whom those weapons will be aimed.

Posted on July 14, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 14, 2020)

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