Examining the Relationship Between China and Iran


May 3, 2012

Fabric flags of China and Iran

Photo by Oleksii Liskonih/Getty Images

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.

China and Iran: Economic, Political, and Military Relations examines the 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 study concludes that the U.S. ability to fundamentally reshape China's relationship with Iran is fairly limited, but that the United States should continue to pressure China to reduce ties to Iran in order to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapons capability.