China has reiterated its opposition to unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran as the two states launch a 25-year cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening economic and political ties. Chinese state officials and leadership is unequivocal when it comes to supporting efforts for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, reflecting its antipathy for the US imposed sanctions on Iran which had created unnecessary hurdles in the way for regional cooperation and economic integration,
It is worth mentioning here that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal signed by the P 5+1 in 2015 was widely hailed as a landmark achievement made possible by sincere dialogue and diplomacy. Indeed, the agreement is to a greater extent an achievement of the nuclear non-proliferation regime that helped check the increasingly disturbing power symmetry in the Middle East which in return had managed to contain the transformation of low-intensity conflicts into all-out wars. Relative stability had resulted in the Middle East as a result of the JCPOA. However, the US withdrawal from JCPOA did not bode well for the Middle East peace and global non-proliferation regime at large. The momentum and confidence the diplomatic means had garnered in the post- JCPOA scenario came to a crashing halt. The sealed and mutually agreed upon agreements in the international arena especially in which the US is the potential party came under extreme scrutiny leading to an environment of gross trust deficit. Therefore, in the first instance, this withdrawal seems to have had adverse consequences for the diplomatic norms.
Secondly, US’s existence from the deal undermined the nascent nuclear non-proliferation regime. This regime already lacks such precedents like the JCPOA which help prevent a nation from acquiring and operationalizing nuclear weapons as is the case with Iran. Therefore, the China-Iran strategic cooperation is a welcome sign of cooperation that holds the promise of increased regional trade and cooperation.