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The Iranian and Chinese defense ministers held high-level talks Monday in a bid to expand the military relationship between Tehran and Beijing, according to reports in China and Iran’s state-run media organs.
Iranian Defense Minister Hussein Dehghan met with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan, in Beijing on Monday to increase “cooperation between the two countries in military and defensive fields,” according to Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency.
Dehghan emphasized the mutual benefits of increased “military cooperation” between Beijing and Tehran in public comments and stated that the two militaries could work at “disarming the Zionist regime of its nuclear arsenals.”
“A powerful China is a guarantee for international security and peace. A powerful Iran is a guarantee for peace, stability and durable security in the strategic region of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East," Dehghan said.
Wanquan had similarly upbeat comments about the military-to-military partnership, which could cause trouble for Western nations already concerned about security in the Straits of Hormuz and Asia-Pacific.
"Given Iran and China's common views over many important political, security, regional, and international issues, Beijing assumes Tehran as its strategic partner,” Wanquan said according to Fars.
China is already Iran’s third largest buyer of crude oil and traded about $45 billion worth of goods with Tehran last year.
“China-Iran relations have maintained a positive and steady momentum of growth,” Wanquan said according to China’s Xinhua news agency. “High-level contacts have been frequent between the two countries, while the bilateral political mutual trust has deepened continuously.”
“In recent years, the exchange of visits between army groups of the two militaries has increased, and special exchanges and cooperation in personnel training have continued to expand,” Wanquan was quoted as saying. “It is believed that with the joint efforts by the two sides, friendly relations between the two countries and militaries will definitely develop further.”
China also has been accused of participating in an illicit scheme to skirt economic sanctions on Iran.
Closer ties between Iran and China could also complicate Western efforts to scale back Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
As a member of the P5+1 negotiating team, China could potentially stand in the way of efforts to pressure Tehran into making concrete concessions on the nuclear front.
The relationship could also be a boon for the Iranian military, which has been building more advanced drones, missiles, and warships.
Iranian ships have already been practicing how to destroy U.S. warships, according to top Iranian military figures.
"That China would embrace Iran is no surprise," said former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin. "What worries me is the big picture: China is building a naval base in Pakistan, cementing ties with Iran, building business in Iraq, and also courting Turkey. It's creating an anti-American alliance through the heart of Asia and the Middle East."
Iran’s navy “can sink a U.S. aircraft carrier in less than a minute,” according to Iranian Navy Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
"They [the Americans] know nothing,” Fadavi told Fars on Monday. “We have been making and sinking replicas of U.S. destroyers, frigates, and warships for long years, and we have sunk the replica of their vessels in 50 seconds through a series of operational measures.”
"We practice the same drills on replica aircraft carriers because sinking and destroying U.S. warships has, is, and will be on our agenda," Fadavi said.
Fadavi went on to say that the destruction of US Navy is the "main operational goal of IRGC."