Iran has been looking to China to salvage what remains of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday re-emphasized the need for China’s help, saying their involvement is “pivotal” following President Donald Trump’s May 8 decision to withdraw the United States from the multilateral agreement.
“The role of China in the implementation of JCPOA, in achieving JCPOA, and now in sustaining JCPOA, will be pivotal,” Zarif said, according to Reuters.
The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia — the other signatories to the JCPOA — have criticized America’s decision to quit the deal.
On Friday, China said it will not cut Iranian oil imports despite President Trump threatening to sanction any countries that fail to stop importing Iranian oil by November 4, a symbolic date coinciding with the start of what became known as the Iranian hostage crisis.
China imports more oil from Iran than any other nation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his nation will work to save the Iranian nuclear deal to ensure Iranian oil will continue to flow through the market, during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Zarif.
“China always holds the view that JCPOA is a multilateral deal which is verified and approved by the United Nations Security Council and accords the common interests of all parties and the international community, which must be respected and safeguarded so as to maintain the authority of the United Nations, the effectiveness of multilateral deals and the credibility of the international rules,” Yi reportedly said.
Also on Friday, Zarif tweeted a warning to remind the United Staes that the Persian Gulf is Iran’s home turf:
US Navy can’t seem to find its way around our waters. Perhaps because it hasn’t figured out its name: Persian Gulf, as it's been called for 2,000 yrs longer than US has existed. Or maybe it doesn't know what it's doing in our backyard, 7,000 miles from home. pic.twitter.com/g05yqSTisi
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) August 3, 2018
On Wednesday, U.S. officials told reporters the naval fleet of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is planning to use 100 gunboats in the Persian Gulf to practice “swarm” tactics, an exercise that is usually reserved for the fall.
The exercise could shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial Gulf passage for shipments of numerous commodities. The strait is used for roughly ten percent of the world’s oil transfers annually.