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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 01 April, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

China-Iran increasing ties

China-Iran increasing ties

GS-Paper-2: International issue and Political science Optional – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

Context: China and Iran have signed a 25-year "strategic cooperation pact” which includes "political-economic and strategic components". The agreement comes as a major push from China to back Iran to deal with the continuing weight of sanctions reinstated by the US after its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal. In this context, it is very important for India to redesign its strategy in West Asia and the Indian Ocean.

News: It will deepen relations between Iran and China and would establish a blueprint for "reciprocal investments in the fields of transport, ports, energy, industry and services. It forms a part of China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to fund infrastructure projects and increase its influence overseas.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

In 2015, Iran with the P5+1 group of world powers - the USA, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme. The deal was named as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: JCPOA and in common parlance as Iran Nuclear Deal.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of sanctions and access to global trade. The agreement allowed Iran to accumulate small amounts of uranium for research but it banned the enrichment of uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.

Iran was also required to redesign a heavy-water reactor being built, whose spent fuel could contain plutonium suitable for a bomb and to allow international inspections. In 2018, the United States declared its withdrawal from JCPOA and imposed unilateral sanction on Iran.

Iran has pulled away from restrictions imposed under the deal in order to put pressure on the other signatories — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — to provide new economic incentives to offset US sanctions.

China and the Middle East

Iran relies on China as its largest trading partner. Chinese foreign minister, in his recent visit to West Asian nations, proposed a five-point initiative for achieving security and stability in the Middle East, advocating "mutual respect, upholding equity and justice, achieving non-proliferation, jointly fostering collective security, and accelerating development cooperation.”

Earlier, China and Russia called for the US to unconditionally return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as soon as possible and revoke the unilateral sanctions against Iran. In this context, they proposed "the establishment of a regional security dialogue platform to converge a new consensus on resolving the security concerns of countries in the region.”

India's Concerns

  1. Military Partnership: China is also concluding a security and military partnership with Iran. China calls for “joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing” to fight “the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes”. The sizable Chinese investments in Iranian port development may eventually be turned into permanent military access arrangements with Iran.

  1. Strategic Stakes Around the Chabahar Port: With a growing Chinese presence in Iran, India is concerned about its strategic stakes around the Chabahar port project that it has been developing. The port is close to Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is being developed by China as part of its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that links it to the Indian Ocean through BRI.
  2. Geopolitical Rivalry: India finds itself caught in the geopolitical rivalry between the US & China over Iran. India’s dilemma also stems from the fact that robust support from the US is essential when it is locked in a border stand-off with China.
  3. Impact on Relationship with Other Countries: Growing Chinese footsteps in Iran will have a long-lasting impact on India’s relationship with not only Iran but also Afghanistan and Central Asian nations.

Source: TH


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