With the latest Sino-Iran geostrategic alliance, the world’s geo-political canvas is getting galvanised to almost pre-cold war status, offering a number of options to the regional and globalised powers to work with. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations on behalf of the Trump Administration that the US wants all UN sanctions on Iran restored, under the claims that Iran violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. He reaffirms that the US had a right to impose sanctions under UN resolution 2231 that laid out the rules of JCPOA agreement. Members of the UNSC: United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Germany are of the view that the US unilaterally removed itself from being a participant to the JCPOA deal, saying “We cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA.” This is a recent string of developments regarding Iran in the global forum. Last week, the United Nations Security Council rejected a US proposal to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran. The rejection of the proposal underscored the US’s global isolation. The snapback provision is seen as a possible measure to punish any Iranian violations by reimposing all sanctions lifted when the deal took effect. That could include the prohibition of not just arms deals, but also oil sales and banking agreements. In theory, all the UN member states would have to adhere to this provision.

Iran and China are drafting a sweeping security and economic partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors. The partnership would guarantee Chinese investment and military support in Iran in exchange for hydrocarbons, which extends for 25 years. With the US dedicated towards imposing sanctions on Iran, that would grant more strategic control over the region, China is providing Iran a lifeline to get out of its dependency crisis. Besides oil and gas, investments will be in infrastructure, from motorways and railways, including express and air navigation, the modernisation of the marine merchant fleet, and the telecommunications sector. In return, China will obtain concessions in the field of gas and oil, and the performance will be in the national currency of each country. The US claims Iran has over exceeded its nuclear enrichment limits set by the accord and that Iran has launched covert attacks on American military targets. The US, in return, has killed Iranian military leaders and proxies, including Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s revolutionary guard by the start of this year.

There are repeated claims that China wants to tout Iran as a symbol of success in China’s international cooperation and an example that other states might set in signing agreements with China. At the same time, China may very well become the major importer of Iranian oil and gas, and thus will relieve Iran of relying a lot on the western international market and bypassing US sanctions. China, the world’s largest oil importer, at more than 10 million barrels a day last year, will guarantee itself energy away from international political volatility and US manoeuvres. Beijing supports President Putin’s proposed summit on Iran to avoid “confrontation” over a US attempt to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran. The Chinese foreign ministry has stated that the failure of the US proposal to the UNSC “again showed that unilateralism has no popular support and hegemonic behavior will not succeed.” All this spells great for Iran, but concerns just across the border will certainly be swelling. Pakistan can enter this dynamic partnership thanks to its presence between China and Iran, but geopolitical compulsions may constrain Pakistan’s direct involvement in the Iran-China partnership. Indian presence in Iran has been reduced due to India’s departure from Iran’s Chabahar projects. CPEC could be extended to allow Pakistan to become a conduit for Iranian oil and gas headed to China. Pakistan at this stage cannot afford to see the geostrategic developments unfolding in the region while sitting across the fence. Within the geopolitical spectrum, it has its own space to maneuver while maintaining its focus on national propositions. The policymakers are now required to steer the nation on proper guiding rails, making the best out of the situation without losing balance. Strategic advantages and national interests might provide certain defined courses of action and optimized solutions if counterweighed properly.