‘China backs Iran nuclear deal’

Context

China has called for a ‘new forum’ to defuse tensions in the West Asia. China has reaffirmed its commitment to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an implicit rebuke of the U.S. for abandoning the accord.

About

What is Iran’s nuclear deal?

  • In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
    • It came after years of tension over Iran's alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insisted that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful, but the international community did not believe that.
  • Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

The US’s withdrawal

  • President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in May 2018, saying it failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and its role in regional wars.
  • The United States reimposed sanctions and moved to wipe out Iran’s oil exports, prompting Iran to resume some of its nuclear activities.
  • Following the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in January 2020, Iran announced plans to halt most of its commitments to the deal.

What’s the need of forum?

  • Iran has been locked in an acrimonious relationship with Saudi Arabia, the other major West Asian power, over the war in Yemen, Iranian influence in Iraq and Saudi support for Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.
  • The proposed forum would “enhance mutual understanding through dialogue and explore political and diplomatic solutions to security issues in the West Asia”.
  • The support for the Iranian nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration but ultimately abandoned by Donald Trump, would be a precondition of entry to the forum.

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