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China and Russia Have Iran’s Back: Tehran May Be Less Open Than Ever to Threats or Persuasion

Authors: Jamsheed K. Choksy and Carol E. B. Choksy

Affiliation: Central Eurasian and Iranian Studies in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University.

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs

Date/Place: November 17, 2020/USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1906


Keywords: Iran, Sanctions, Chabahar, Foreign Policy, Nuclear deal


The US under Trump’s presidency was more anxious to discipline Iran, rather than conveying foreign policy. Biden is a hope for many to converse all the gaffes that Trump committed. Iran, during the Trump era, was engaged in Ostpolitik—Tehran joined forces with Moscow and Beijing to get both economic and defense securities from the alternate bloc. China portrayed itself as a custodian of sovereignty and invested 400 billion dollars to upgrade the Iranian fuel industry. Siding with Iran, China has always voiced up against US sanctions for ‘violating international laws’. China is also enabling Iran to equip Chabahar and Jask ports to pursue pipeline projects. Tehran’s pipelines will bypass the Strait of Hormuz which will complicate US efforts to put trade sanctions on Iran. Russia is also averse to US policy towards Iran. Putin and Rouhani have conferred the mutual agreement on regional peace and security, after which Iran is a strong purchaser of the Russian arms market. Rouhani stated when the UN lifted a ten-year arms embargo on October 18, 2020: ‘We are able to . . . buy weapons from everybody we wish.’ Biden is determined to bring the differences to the negotiation table. Biden wrote that if Tehran were to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, ‘I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.’ But it does not seem simple to convince Iran now, especially after China and Russia’s involvement in Iran.

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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