China demands withdrawal of all sanctions on Iran, restoration of Iran nuclear deal

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi concluded his three-day state visit to China on Thursday and and issued a joint statement with China emphasizing the need for a multipolar world

February 17, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
China-Iran talks
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Beijing, China, February 14, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua/Yan Yan)

At the end of the three-day state visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to China on Thursday, February 16, both countries issued a joint statement expressing their strong commitment to multilateralism in world politics and for building strong bilateral relationships and cooperation in various international, regional, and bilateral fields. 

Both countries also called for the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, from which the US unilaterally withdrew in May 2018, and asked that “all relevant sanctions [imposed since then on Iran by the US] should be fully abolished in a verifiable manner, promoting the agreement’s full and effective implementation,” Tehran Times reported.  

They also strongly objected to what they termed as attempts to “politicize” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by some countries. 

Claiming that it has supplied all the relevant information, Iran has asked the IAEA to stop its investigation into traces of uranium found at some nuclear sites and the alleged storage of enriched uranium beyond the prescribed limits. 

The IAEA has, however, refused to shut its investigations into the matter down. Iran alleges that the continuation of these investigations is a political move prompted by the US and Israel.

Strong pitch for greater bilateral, regional and global cooperation 

Raisi’s visit to China from February 14 to 16 was the first such visit by an Iranian president in the last two decades. During his visit, Raisi met Chinese President Xi Jinping and both the countries signed around 20 bilateral agreements on cooperation in the fields of energy, technology, finance, and regional and global issues, among others.  

During his meeting with Raisi on Wednesday, Xi had told Iran that “China supports Iran in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity, supports Iran in resisting unilateralism and bullying, and opposes external forces interfering in Iran’s internal affairs and undermining Iran’s security and stability,” CCTV reported

In their joint statement, both the countries said that all attempts to create regional instability should be countered as the peace and stability of the Persian Gulf was important for global security and energy transportation.

They emphasized a stronger Iranian role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), of which it became a member last year, as well as Iran’s possible membership in BRICS+. 

President Xi also agreed to visit Iran in the near future. He last visited the country in 2016. 

Raisi expressed his country’s willingness to increase its participation “in the [Chinese initiatives] such as Belt and Road, Global Development and Global Security.”  

China and Iran had already signed a 25-year strategic cooperation pact in 2021.

Commenting on the significance of Raisi’s visit to China, Pepe Escobar wrote that both countries will focus on developing “sophisticated strategies to bypass the harsh, unilateral US sanctions” and exploring newer areas of cooperation such as “advanced technology, robotics, and AI across the industrial spectrum.” 

Noting the need to create an alternative to western-dominated international financial transaction systems, Escobar underlined that China and Iran can find alternative ways of financing projects, including for the strategic partnership in energy, through the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and the BRICS bank, as there appears to be a strong possibility that Iran will join BRICS+ in the near future.