Tehran targets Beijing’s weapons
Chinese National Defense Minister Wei Fenghe visited Tehran on April 27, 2022 and met with high-level Iranian figures. Wei Fenghe said Iran sees China as a strategic partner. The close cooperation of the two countries would ensure security, especially in the current critical and tense situation. The intentions of the two countries demonstrate that their cooperation can lead to deep strategic cooperation.
After meeting with President Ebrahim Reisi, the two sides agreed to expand all areas of cooperation, including the military, while reiterating their joint commitment to protecting fundamental interests, against what they called “the unilateral domination and external intervention” of the West. True, he emphasizes mutual inattention. After meeting with AFGS, the two countries “agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in joint military exercises, exchange of strategies, training issues and other common areas.”
Due to the strong defense diplomacy of the Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Hossein Bagheri, Iran’s relations with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have grown closer in recent years. . In 2019, General Bagheri became the first Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff to visit China since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Furthermore, Wei Feng was the third high-level PLA delegation to visit Iran since 2016, which coincided with General Bagheri’s appointment as head of Iran’s armed forces. It shows that there is more going on below the surface.
China reaffirmed its commitment to peace and security in the Middle East and the Gulf. At the same time, he criticized the US for imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran and proposed a series of forgotten alternative security frameworks for the Gulf, which undermined the US-led security umbrella. In the region. It can ensure Beijing’s prosperity and the free flow of oil.
China has been viewed as suspicious of supplying weapons to Iran during the sanctions and it has also been cautious with Iran over the UN arms embargo, which was in effect until October 2020. Once sanctions are lifted, private and public companies may seek to diversify. their portfolios by selling military assets. China was the largest arms supplier to both sides during the Iran-Iraq War, they bought more than $7.5 billion worth of weapons in the late 1980s. According to the International Institute for Research on Stockholm Peace, China took advantage of a loophole in pre-2006 orders to continue supplying weapons to Iran after years of sanctions. These weapons were anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles; armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missile systems, air search radars and missile launch catamaran systems, which reached Iran.
In recent years, Iran has used its control over the strategic barrier in the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes, to attack passing tankers and shoot down US drones. For their own reasons, China and Iran are trying to develop A2/AD capabilities on their shores to counter US and allied navies. The two countries train to shoot down American aircraft carriers in mock-ups. He has also helped develop long-range anti-ship missiles, demonstrating how Chinese companies can boost Iran’s development of indigenous weapons.
In March 2010, it was reported that Iran had started manufacturing Chinese-designed Nasr-1 anti-ship missiles. Just four years ago, during the 2006 Lebanon War, four Israeli Navy soldiers were killed by an Iranian derivative of a Chinese C-802 subsonic anti-ship cruise missile launched by Iran’s Hezbollah proxy. .
Since the lifting of sanctions in 2020, no bilateral arms purchases have been reported, possibly due to Tehran’s economic difficulties and the possible reaction of Iran’s rivals (notably through the US Executive Order 13949). But the Iranian defense industry is interested in Chinese weapons, especially fighter jets. The possibility of a future deployment of Chinese J-10 fighter jets in the Persian Gulf has been raised by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and there is no talk of an exchange of planes for Energy.
With the possibility of a resumption of the nuclear deal, this could give Tehran greater access to funds, which could lead to growing concern over the arms trade between Washington and its allies. Some analysts have ruled out the possibility of China becoming a major arms exporter to Iran in the post-sanctions era, but as the Lebanon war and recent bombings have made clear, Chinese technology is in the wrong hands.
Drones, dual-use technologies and missiles are also of concern. Unlike other major arms suppliers to the region, China is not a party to the Wassenaar Accord, which could make it the largest supplier of armed drones to the Middle East region.
Because Iran can manufacture its drones locally, opponents of Tehran currently exclusively use Chinese drones. Reports have revealed Chinese support for local production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Gulf states, including a recent joint venture between China and Saudi Arabia to develop military drones in the kingdom. Given China’s high-quality and low-cost drones, as well as its ability to transfer knowledge and upgrade Iranian drones, the possibility of bilateral cooperation in this emerging field cannot be ruled out.
In January 2021, sources in Beijing confirmed that Iran and Pakistan had gained access to China’s BeiDou satellite navigation system for military purposes. Although Iran’s current ballistic missiles rely on guidance methods rather than satellites, BeiDou can help Iran’s armed forces determine launch locations and target positions, especially with the support of intelligence and other strategies. On the other hand, satellite navigation is suitable for controlling surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones within a radius of 500 km.
In recent years, the two countries have stepped up military cooperation with their navies visiting each other’s seaports and holding joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean. In March 2021, China and Iran signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement. It also covers all varieties of cooperation and economic activities, from oil and mining to establishing industries in Iran.
Improving strategic and defense cooperation between China and Iran would have a remarkable impact on spreading unilateralism and countering terrorism in the region.