Russia and China have begun to show a more active interest in military cooperation with Iran since the end of the arms embargo, said US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul on August 10th.
“We are watching China sign a 20-year strategic partnership agreement with Iran, and the Russians are negotiating the supply [to Iran] of weapons,” she said during a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Stroul stressed that the United States is ready to use sanctions and diplomatic means to prevent the supply of weapons to Iran from Moscow and Beijing.
The US partners in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf, should be aware that only cooperation with Washington is in their security interests, Stroul said.
“Turning to China or Russia will not help their security or stability, especially at a time when they are trying to help Iran build up the power of its conventional weapons,” she said.
Republican Senator Todd Young said Russia and China are supplying conventional weapons to Iran, which is transferring them to allies in the region. “I have no doubt that the Houthis or Hezbollah members are using Russian or Chinese weapons,” he said.
The UN embargo on the supply and export of conventional weapons to Iran expired in October 2020. The United States opposed its cancellation and imposed sanctions on those who supply weapons to Tehran.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Mira Resnick noted that the United States is ready to curb the attempts of Russia and China to expand their influence.
In her opinion, Washington is interested not only in securing its interests, but also in establishing stability in the region.
“China has not demonstrated that it has an interest or opportunity to help stabilize the region,” she said during the hearing. Resnik also described interaction with Russia and China in the region as a “strategic rivalry.”
If US partners in the Middle East consider placing Chinese military facilities on their territory, they must weigh the risks of such a step, Stroul warned. This could pose a threat to American technology and the stability of the entire region.
“We talk about these risks with every country,” she said. Earlier, Foreign Policy magazine wrote about Beijing’s intention to deploy a military base in the UAE.
In early July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia is working to update its concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf.
“Our friends are showing interest in our long-standing initiative on the concept of collective security in the Gulf zone. We are now, taking into account recent events, working on its updated version. In the very near future, we will be ready to share it with interested parties,” state outlet RIA Novosti quoted Lavrov.
The Russian Foreign Ministry presented the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf zone on July 23 last year.
Among the measures proposed by Moscow at that time were the strengthening of the dialogue between the military departments and experts, the coordination of military aviation flights, the admission of observers to the facilities, the nonclassification of information about the purchase of weapons, the refusal to deploy military groups of third countries in the Persian Gulf and the reduction of the foreign military presence in the region.
In addition, official Moscow announced a proposal to create an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Persian Gulf zone, which would include Moscow, Washington, Beijing, New Delhi, EU countries and other non-regional players as observers.
US Permanent Representative to the UN, Kelly Craft, in October 2020 said that the American side did not agree with the concept of security proposed by Russia.
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