China and Russia are holding private negotiations with Iran to deliver a crucial chemical ingredient used to launch ballistic missiles. The action might aid Russia in replenishing its low rocket stock, according to diplomats with knowledge of the situation.
Countries are forbidden from supplying Iran with the chemical substance without permission from the UN Security Council under UN resolution 2231, which was adopted in 2015.
According to Politico, which cited informed sources, Tehran has held concurrent negotiations with officials and government-controlled entities from both countries, including the state-owned Russian chemical maker FKP Anozit, to acquire large amounts of ammonium perchlorate, or AP, the main ingredient in solid propellants used to power missiles.
In Beijing, Iranian diplomat Sajjad Ahadzadeh, who serves as Tehran’s “technology counselor” in China and the broader region has led the talks to acquire AP, according to the diplomats familiar with the matter.
The exact quantity of AP Iran is seeking to purchase isn’t clear, but the diplomats familiar with its plans estimate it would be sufficient to build thousands of rockets, including the Zolfaghar missile, which has a range of 700 km and has been used by both Iran and its proxies in the Middle East in recent years.
If the deal goes through, some of those rockets could end up being deployed against Ukraine, said the diplomats.
Iran is accused of having supplied Russia with so-called kamikaze drones that it has used to attack Ukrainian civilian targets and has also advised Moscow on how to circumvent the international sanctions.
The talks about procuring AP follow a warming of relations between Iran, Russia, and China — which see themselves as a bulwark against US influence — in the wake of Moscow’s all-out war against Ukraine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Moscow last month, has stopped short of openly endorsing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine but has left little doubt that Beijing’s allegiances ultimately rest with Russia.
China, which recently presented a peace plan that critics say would force Ukraine to cede territory occupied by Russia, wants to make sure the Kremlin doesn’t lose the war, amid fears that could trigger the collapse of its neighbor and wider destabilization.
Helping Russia via Iran by supplying the latter with AP, the diplomats familiar with the matter said, is one way China could offer Moscow substantial support behind the scenes.
China may be considering flouting UN sanctions it signed off on to help Russia’s war effort betrays deep concern in Beijing over its ally’s prospects, Western analysts said.