TEHRAN (Press TV) - China’s long-running pursuit of infrastructure projects in Iran is set to continue despite intensified U.S. sanctions as the Islamic Republic battles the novel coronavirus, analysts say.
China is Iran’s largest crude oil customer and a top trade partner. It regards the Middle Eastern powerhouse a key destination in China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative involving huge infrastructure projects connecting Asia to Europe and beyond.
"The stalling of Iran’s sanctions-hit economy as it battles the coronavirus is unlikely to stop China’s long-running pursuit of infrastructure projects in the Islamic Republic,” the Voice of America (VOA) said on Tuesday, citing analysts.
For years, China has been investing in Iran’s energy and transportation sectors. Some of the ongoing projects include China’s redesign of a heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak and involvement in building a high-speed train line linking Tehran to Qom and Isfahan, which is set for completion next year.
Beijing’s biggest transportation project in Iran is worth $1.5 billion to electrify the rail line from Tehran to Mashhad for a length of 926 kilometers.
China also plans to build a petrochemical park in the southern Iranian port of Chabahar, while its energy companies CNPC and Sinopec are shortlisted to carry out further development of giant Yadavaran and Azadegan oilfields in southwest Iran.
However, some of the projects have been put on ice. Last year, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) abandoned developing phase 11 of the giant South Pars gas field. Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh also said in February that Sinopec was not continuing work in Yadavaran, while Chinese companies facing U.S. pressure withdrew from the Tehran-Shomal Freeway project connecting the Iranian capital to the northern province of Mazandaran.