Are Chinese arms about to flood into Iran as nuke deal takes effect?

A more worrisome, but overlooked, aspect of China’s growing ties with Iran could occur in the arms sector. A bit of historical context is needed here. In the 1980s and early 1990s, China was a major supplier of advanced weapons to Iran in areas ranging from tanks and fighter jets to fast-attack patrol craft and anti-ship missiles. Beijing was driven not only by profit motivations, but also, it seems, by a strategic desire to strengthen Iran as a bulwark against excessive U.S. influence in the Middle East.

Chinese arms sales to Iran gradually declined in the late 1990s and 2000s, due to pressure from the United States and the imposition of UN sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions initially prohibited involvement with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile industries, and were later expanded to cover major conventional weapons, such as combat aircraft and warships. Iran was also increasingly seen as a ‘pariah state,’ a status symbolized by the UN embargo, which discouraged China from maintaining overly close security ties with Tehran. Consequently, China’s arms relationship with Iran has been left largely moribund in the past decade.

Full article: Are Chinese arms about to flood into Iran as nuke deal takes effect? (Asia Times)

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