China arms Iran
According to recent mass media reports, China has launched a plant in Iran to produce Nasr-1 anti-ship missiles, which is an upgraded version of the Chinese S-704 missile. The reporters stressed that start up of the missile production took place while the UN Security Council was discussing new sanctions against Iran. What is behind the decision of China to start missile production in Iran? We asked Vladimir Sazhin, an expert in Oriental Studies, professor, to comment on the topic.
First of all, the information on Chinese-Iranian military cooperation is not the news. The countries have been cooperating in the military area for a long time. In recent years China supplied weapons worth billions of dollars to Iran. But what is special about their cooperation is that Beijing is not only supplying weaponry to Iran but sharing its know-how with the Islamic republic. This sharing of know-how implies tactical and operation tactical missiles, artillery systems, war ships and motor boats and anti-ship missiles. The start of the production of the Chinese S-704 missiles in Iran is part of this process. No doubt, that now that Iran has started to produce such powerful missiles this can influence the balance of forces in the Persian Gulf Zone.
But I think that the purely military factor is not the main one here. The main thing is the geopolitical factor. With the launch of a new missile production facility it is becoming more obvious that China is using its political, economic and scientific and military potential to penetrate into the region. And Iran is one the key players on the Middle East and for various reasons is not directly influenced by the US and the Western countries. Russian military export companies are no longer influential either. That means that Iran has almost no competitors. At the same time the Islamic republic is the source of hydrocarbons for China's economic needs. Thus by broadening military cooperation with Iran Beijing solves several geopolitical tasks - on the one hand it turns Iran into its ally and the site for its further expansion in the region, on the other hand, it gets guaranteed access to Iran oil and gas reserves.
All this is clear except one thing. Because of its nuclear program, Iran is now in the spotlight of the global community, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council. According to most experts, Iran's nuclear program has military options. Moreover, the UN Security Council has adopted three resolutions imposing financial and economic sanctions against Iran and Beijing upheld the sanctions and signed them. China's activities in Iran are beyond any pragmatic approach Chinese policy is famous for, and contradict the rulings of the UN Security Council.