TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday a comprehensive cooperation agreement between Tehran and Beijing has not been finalized yet, adding its contents will be published once it is complete.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said earlier this month that Iran and China had drawn up a 25-year "win-win” plan for cooperation in the face of U.S. efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.
President Hassan Rouhani said during a cabinet session that the plan paves the way for China’s participation in infrastructure development projects in Iran, calling it an opportunity to attract investment in industry, tourism, information technology and communication sectors.
"The document is in line with the interests of the two countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.
Well-regarded energy industry publication the Petroleum Economist wrote last September that ran and China had updated their 25-year deal signed first in 2016 that foresaw $400 billion of Chinese investment in the resource-rich Middle Eastern nation.
According to the publication, the deal represented "a potentially material shift to the global balance of the oil and gas sector” and could mark a "seismic shift in the global hydrocarbons sector” where no U.S. dollars would be involved in commodity transaction payments.
"The central pillar of the new deal is that China will invest $280 billion, developing Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors,” said the monthly magazine which spoke to "a senior source closely connected to Iran’s Petroleum Ministry” during Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Beijing in August 2019.
"There will be another $120 billion investment in upgrading Iran’s transport and manufacturing infrastructure, which again can be front-loaded into the first five-year period and added to in each subsequent period should both parties agree,” it added.
One unnamed Iranian source was quoted as saying at the time that China’s close involvement in the build-out of Iran’s manufacturing infrastructure would be entirely in line with its mammoth One Belt, One Road initiative.
The report said the agreement included a clause allowing at least one Russian company to have the option of being involved in the projects alongside Chinese operators.
According to the Petroleum Economist, one key upside of the deals flowed from the fact that both China and Russia hold seats on the UN Security Council, making it difficult for the U.S. or any other adversary to further sanction Iran.
The two major powers are currently angling to curb a U.S. plan at the UN Security Council to extend an Iran arms embargo which is due to be lifted in October, reports have said.
Mousavi said Monday that the United States is "not in a position” to renew the arms embargo against the country.
The spokesman said other UN Security Council members opposed the U.S. position on the issue. He said Foreign Minister Zarif would address an online meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday. The UN arms embargo so far has stopped Iran from purchasing fighter jets, tanks, warships and other weaponry.
U.S. special representative to Iran Brian Hook told The Associated Press on Sunday that that the UN should ignore Iran’s threats to retaliate if the arms embargo is extended. Among its options, the Islamic Republic could expel international inspectors monitoring Iran’s nuclear program under a 2015 international deal from which U.S. resident Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018.
If the embargo is lifted, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in 2019 that Iran likely would try to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran also may try to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said.
Iran long has been outmatched by U.S.-backed Persian Gulf nations’ acquisition of advanced American weaponry. In response, Tehran turned toward developing ballistic missiles as a deterrent.