While several world leaders have been walking a tightrope on US-Iran tensions, China held the United States responsible for the escalation in the aftermath of the Iranian General’s killing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the decision of the Trump administration to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal is the primary cause of nuclear tension.
The spokesperson said that even after Iran was forced to reduce the compliance of the nuclear deal due to external factors, the country has been displaying restraint and “had clearly expressed its political will to comprehensively implement the deal”. He emphasised that Iran is not violating its obligation to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) since it was Trump administration who defied its international responsibilities by withdrawing from the deal.
In 2015, Iran reached a historic nuclear deal with P5+1 group which included the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Iran, under the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed to limit sensitive nuclear activities in lieu of lifting economic sanctions.
But the US-Iran relation worsened when the Trump administration, in May 2018, unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal accusing Iran of violating the terms of JCPOA and followed it with crippling economic sanctions. The bilateral relationship has been vulnerable since then with Trump pressuring other countries to impose sanctions on Iran. The situation has further escalated after Iran officially announced its exit from the nuclear deal.
On January 3, the United States announced that it killed Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport. Trump said that the United States terminated him because he was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel”. In a televised briefing, he added that Iran’s top commander made the death of innocent people his “sick passion”, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Iran’s Supreme Leader has vowed to exact “severe revenge for the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood”.