China and Iran: Economic, Political, and Military Relations
Scott Harold & Alireza Nader, RAND Corporation | May 2012
Over the past few decades, China and Iran have developed a broad and deep partnership centered on China's energy needs and Iran's abundant resources as well as significant non-energy economic ties, arms sales and defense cooperation, and geostrategic balancing against the United States. This partnership presents a unique challenge to U.S. interests and objectives. In particular, China's policies have hampered U.S. and international efforts to dissuade Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. Consequently, understanding the nature and range of Chinese-Iranian cooperation is important to crafting a successful U.S. strategy toward Iran. This paper examines factors driving Chinese-Iranian cooperation, potential tensions in the Chinese-Iranian partnership, and U.S. policy options for influencing this partnership to meet U.S. objectives. The authors conclude that the U.S. ability to fundamentally reshape China's relationship with Iran is fairly limited, but that the United States should continue to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapons capability and pressure China to reduce ties to Iran.
Read the full paper here.
Dr. Scott W. Harold is an Associate Political Scientist at The RAND Corporation, where he specializes in Asian security and international affairs.
Alireza Nader is a senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and the lead co-author of Coping with a Nuclearizing Iran (2011). His research has focused on Iran's political dynamics, elite decisionmaking, and Iranian foreign policy.