The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama phoned his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and thanked him for Beijing’s role in helping to secure an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
China is a member of the five permanent UN Security Council nations known as the P5 which participated in the talks since November 2013.
Along with the US, UK, France, Russia and non-permanent member Germany, China was represented by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the latest round of talks in Vienna, Austria.
“The US hopes to continue coordination and cooperation with China and make joint efforts to ensure the implementation of the agreement,” Obama said
China’s position has been that the timing was right to reach a comprehensive agreement which recognized Tehran’s legal rights, including the right to the peaceful use of nuclear power, while simultaneously removing the crippling international sanctions.
Both China and Russia have been instrumental in supporting Iran’s demand that the arms embargo also be lifted.
On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group reached a comprehensive agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for at least 10 years in return for the lifting of sanctions.
During this time, it will reduce its nuclear centrifuges (needed to produce fissile material for an atomic bomb) from 19,000 to 6,000.
The centrifuges would hold no fissile material, however.
Iran would also have to limit the amount of plutonium it produces in its nuclear reactors. The agreement also limits uranium enrichment at 3.67 per cent and limits the stockpile to 300 kg – all measures designed to limit Tehran’s capacity to weapon its nuclear program.
On Monday, the UNSC unanimously endorsed the Vienna agreement and passed a resolution which lays the groundwork for the lifting of UN-imposed sanctions. The European Union passed a similar resolution.
US-imposed sanctions currently remain in place.
Xi’s September vist
During the phone call, Obama reiterated his looking forward to meeting with Xi during the Chinese president’s visit to Washington in September.
Xi said he is looking forward to working with Obama to further ensure mutual “understanding and friendship between the two peoples” during his September visit.
The Chinese president added that China-US relations have maintained a good momentum and alluded to their joint efforts in securing the Vienna agreement.
“China and the United States have maintained close communication and coordination throughout the negotiation process, which is yet another sign showing the two countries’ commitment to building a new model of major country relations,” said Xi.
Relations between Beijing and Washington have been strained, however, regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam and other nations lay contesting claims to these waters, but Beijing exercises jurisdiction over about 2 million square kms of the 3.55 million square kms maritime territory.
In 2013, US ally the Philippines filed a complaint with the Arbitral Tribunal questioning the validity of China’s “nine-dash” territorial claim, a demarcation on official Chinese maps that envelops virtually the entire South China Sea.
On July 14, 2015, China reiterated its position of not participating in the South China Sea arbitration process initiated by Philippines at a Hague-based Tribunal.
China will refuse to recognize the conclusion of the arbitration requested by the Philippines over the bilateral maritime sovereignty dispute, a foreign ministry spokesperson said last week, after an international tribunal heard the matter at the Hague.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies