What China-Iran deal means for Washington

Al-Monitor | Daniel Hoffman: China’s reported multibillion economic and security deal with Iran could be a double-edged sword.

Iran is reportedly in the final stages of agreeing to a $400 billion economic and security deal with China, which includes infrastructure investment, discounted Iranian oil and enhanced cooperation on both defense and intelligence. Iran, suffering from the horrific impact of COVID-19 and with its economy in free fall since the Trump administration reimposed sanctions after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, is in desperate economic straits.

Iran rejected the US offer to negotiate lifting sanctions in return for a new agreement that would remove JCPOA sunset clauses and address Iran’s ballistic missile program.

In July 2019, Iran began exceeding the limit on its stockpile of low enriched uranium set under the JCPOA. Iran has also nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November 2019, also in violation of the JCPOA, according to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency.

US-Iranian relations reached a nadir following the US airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January.

In 2016, Iran and China signed a strategic partnership focused on increasing investment and trade, a calculated hedge given that the US Senate never ratified the JCPOA as a treaty.

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