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Tehran Defends Deal with Beijing amid Rising Concerns

Tehran Defends Deal with Beijing amid Rising Concerns

Friday, 2 April, 2021 - 10:30
The Iranian and Chinese Foreign Ministers in Tehran, AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has thrown his full weight behind the recently signed 25-year partnership deal between Beijing and Tehran, reaffirming in statements on social media that the agreement does not require parliamentary approval.

Iranian officials have been applying multiple titles in reference to the signed document, details of which remain undisclosed to the Iranian public. The secrecy has only fueled concerns and triggered unending speculation that the Iranian government is offering too much in exchange for too little.

“The document imposes no obligation on either side,” Zarif stressed in a separate post on his Instagram page.

It is worth noting that while the Iranian Foreign Ministry is by law in charge of handling the China deal, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has also appointed one of his senior advisers, Ali Larijani, who is also Iran’s longest-serving parliament speaker, as a key negotiator.

The Iranian supreme leader’s choice appeared as an assurance to Beijing that the Iranian approach toward the deal is nonpartisan and could not be overruled by changing administrations in Tehran.

Kamal Kharrazi, a former foreign minister and a Khamenei aide himself, has confirmed that the Chinese side “demanded that someone representative of the Nezam be involved as well.” Nezam is the umbrella term Iranian officials use to refer to the Islamic Republic in its entirety under Khamenei’s leadership.

More so, Zarif made an unannounced appearance in a virtual conversation on the audio-chat app Clubhouse on Wednesday where he addressed a range of topics, including the recent agreement with China.

Zarif joined the conversation along with other officials, including Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, and addressed an audience of over 8,000 listeners, becoming the highest-ranking Iranian official yet to take part in a Clubhouse room.

In his speech at the event, he championed the deal with Beijing and said that it was natural for secrecy to engulf such deals as the releasing of any details requires consent from both parties.

He also said that since the agreement with China entailed no obligations, it wasn’t constitutionally mandated to gain consent from parliament first.

Zarif’s support for the contentious deal was also coupled with foreign-based Iranian opposition activists and exiled journalists getting effectively silenced during the entire Clubhouse meeting.

Zarif’s moderators had banned them from raising any questions.

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