China Takes Lead in Pressuring Biden to Remove Sanctions on Iran

China Takes Lead in Pressuring Biden to Remove Sanctions on Iran

Iranian state media on Wednesday praised Iran’s 25-year, $400 billion cooperation agreement with China as a “geopolitical game-changer” that positioned Beijing as leader of the effort to drag the United States back into the nuclear deal, even as Iran violates the deal in increasingly brazen ways.

Iran’s PressTV quoted “American-Chinese social media activist” Carl Zha scoffing at American media for getting “worked up” about the deal, conservatives portraying it as a failure of the Biden administration’s foreign policy, China hawks worried about a new Axis of Evil taking shape, and Iranian dissidents who see the deal as “somehow Iran selling out to China.”

Zha could not think of any rational reason why any of Iran or China’s critics would be apprehensive about the deal, instead, chalking it up to irrational anti-Iranian and anti-Chinese animus and “U.S. policymakers” worried about losing “the position of the U.S. as a hegemon in the world” to China.

He then laid out how China is now positioned to shield the malevolent Iranian regime from consequences for its human rights abuses and dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons:

China and Iran Cooperation goes a long way. I mean not just, just, historically, but also in the modern time, you know China has always dealt with Iran and in the latest round of sanctions  the US placed on Iran, China continue to do business (with Iran) despite the US sanctions because, you know, the, the US sanctions rely on the premise that the US has dominate the global finance right and because US threatened to sanction, any company, any government that has dealing with Iran, but China is in a position today where you can basically ignore the US sanction and continue to, to work on its traditional relationship, normal relationship, with Iran. And I think that is what has upset people in Washington, because they see the US is losing its grip.

Zha added that Iran and China’s other Belt and Road partners are hoping to “bypass the U.S. Navy’s chokehold on the world shipping trade,” which is thinly-disguised code for Iran and China gaining the ability to threaten global shipping and shut down the oil trade. China constantly complains about U.S. Navy Freedom of Navigation operations through waters Beijing illegally claims to control, while Iran constantly threatens to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf – and sometimes follows through on those threats.

China dove into the argument over the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on Tuesday by describing the United States as the “offending party” and demanding it make the first move by unilaterally lifting all sanctions against the regime in Tehran.

“The justified request of the injured party, rather than the offending party, should be confirmed and satisfied first. This is a basic right-or-wrong question. The U.S. should lift all sanctions against Tehran and on this basis, Iran can resume full compliance to the nuclear deal,” declared Chinese envoy to the United Nations Wang Qun after meeting with representatives from Iran and the European signatories to the JCPOA.

“The U.S. should return to the deal unconditionally, and lift all illegal sanctions against Iran and long-arm jurisdiction over a third party,” demanded Cheng Hua, China’s ambassador to Iran.

Europeans, and the Biden State Department, largely ignored these demands and blandly praised the Vienna meeting as “constructive.” The Biden State Department was not invited to the Vienna meeting and has had no known interactions with the Iranian regime.

European representatives pushed for the formation of two “working groups” that would handle U.S. sanctions and Iran’s flagrant violations of the JCPOA as separate issues. A senior Iranian official told PressTV his government would flatly refuse that approach – with China’s heavyweight support, Tehran demands complete and unilateral elimination of all U.S. sanctions before it will consider slowing its rush to nuclear weapons.

“From Iran’s viewpoint, all American sanctions – including the Obama-era sanctions, the sanctions restored by Trump, and the additional sanctions in the Trump-era labeled as non-nuclear – must be terminated,” the official said. “Iran’s condition for returning to its JCPOA commitments is the lasting removal of all the entire sanctions.”

Iran continued merrily enriching uranium far beyond any plausible need, and far beyond the limits set by the JCPOA, even as Tehran and China demanded unconditional American submission. 

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) reported on Wednesday that Iran has now stockpiled 55 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, demonstrating an even greater capacity for enrichment than Iran possessed before the nuclear deal, which should be a rather embarrassing revelation for defenders of the JCPOA.

According to the AEOI, the new advanced centrifuges Iran isn’t supposed to be spinning, at the Fordow site it’s not supposed to be using, have helped it to enrich at least 40 percent more uranium than the regime commanded in January. Experts consider 20 percent enrichment the last practical step before reaching weapons-grade production.

There is little doubt that President Joe Biden desperately wants to return to the JCPOA, reaping praise from left-wing media for correcting his predecessor Donald Trump’s “mistake” in withdrawing from it, but Iran’s flagrant violations and China’s demands for abject submission are making the job more difficult than Biden expected. 

A group of over 300 Iranian-American activists on Wednesday wrote a letter to Biden urging him to make human rights reforms in Iran a condition of lifting sanctions – a demand Tehran and its patrons in Beijing will reject out of hand, especially since the Chinese are making a very big deal about resisting America’s use of sanctions to impose its supposedly narrow vision of human rights on other nations.

John Hayward