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Iran Will Not 'Give Away' Its Soil to China, Or Anyone Else, Zarif Insists

Mohammad Javad Zarif defending himself against fierce attacks in the Iranian parliament on July 5, 2020

Under an incessant barrage of criticism, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again defended a draft document called Iran-China 25-year Comprehensive Cooperation Plan.

While the so-called draft is shrouded in ambiguities, many Iranians have accused Islamic Republic's President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Zarif of "selling Iranian islands," such as Kish on the Persian Gulf to China.

Dismissing the accusation as "untrue" Zarif insisted that whatever the critics say are baseless and devoid of a single bit of truth.

The Majles (Iranian parliament) website, Khane-ye Mellat (the Nation's House) cited Zarif as saying on Thursday, July 16, "We have not given and will not give away even an inch of Iranian soil. We will not grant China or any other country the exclusive right to use a single meter of Iranian territory."

Reports concerning the so-called Tehran-Beijing cooperation plan and its prospects have recently triggered a heated debate in and outside Iran.

Lack of transparency on the Islamic Republic's part has led to widespread public dissatisfaction over the matter.

Opponents of the plan argue that the "document" forces Iran into a dependent and weak position and puts China in a superior place that allows it to squeeze significant concessions from the Islamic Republic.

Nonetheless, Iranian authorities have so far sufficed to dismiss these allegations, without any elaboration, and offer ambiguous promises.

On the same pattern, Zarif vaguely maintained on Thursday that the issue is reaching the negotiation stage, and President Rouhani's administration has given the Foreign Ministry a green light to go ahead and start talking to its Chinese counterpart.

"When we finalize the document with China, we need to submit the agreement to Iran's Parliament if it includes any legal commitments," Zarif asserted, noting, that the administration needs Parliament's approval even if the agreement is simply in the form an executive decision. Parliament needs to make sure it corresponds with existing laws.

Still, without going into the details, Zarif reiterated that the Islamic Republic's relationship with China are strategic and based on common interests and mutual respect.

Once again, Zarif rejected "rumors" over the sale of Kish Island to China and selling cheap crude oil to Beijing, insisting that such "rumors" have been circulated by "enemies" to prevent the development of Iran-China relations.