RELEASE: Gottheimer, Tenney Lead 21 Bipartisan Members Urging State Department to Combat Growing China-Iran Alliance

Iran-China relationship threatens U.S. National Security, Global Stability

Sep 19, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, September 19, 2023, a bipartisan group of 21 Members of Congress — led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Claudia Tenney (NY-24) — wrote to Secretary Antony Blinken urging the State Department to take action and address concerns over the growing relationship between China and Iran. 

China is Iran’s biggest customer for oil and a major supplier for Iran’s missile and drone program. Despite strict U.S. sanctions designed to curb the Iranian regime’s oil trade, Iranian oil exports to China more than doubled last year. Recent reports indicate that China is considering supplying Iran with ammonium perchlorate — a key chemical compound used to propel ballistic missiles. China is also helping aid Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. 

The signatory list of 21 bipartisan Members includes U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Claudia Tenney (NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-2), Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), María Salazar (FL-27), Mike Lawler (NY-17), Nancy Mace (SC-1), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-5), Rich McCormick (GA-6), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Max Miller (OH-7), Cory Mills (FL-7), Darren Soto (FL-9), Darrell Issa (CA-48), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Thomas Kean Jr. (NJ-7), Don Davis (NC-1), and Wiley Nickel (NC-13).

“The Chinese-Iranian alliance presents a unique challenge and dangerous partnership antithetical to American national security interests. China is participating in the Iranian oil trade, bolstering Tehran’s ballistic missile program, supplying drone parts for Russia’s use against Ukraine, and disregarding Iran’s backing of terror groups and their proxies. This cannot be tolerated,” the 21 bipartisan Members of Congress wrote in a letter today to Secretary Blinken.

The letter continued, “Above all, we must prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening our greatest ally in the region. Yet, China’s activities in the Middle East make these already complicated challenges more difficult and dangerous. China is indifferent toward existing sanctions on Iran; Iranian support for Hamas and Hezbollah; and Iran’s continued role as the leading state sponsor of terror.”

“FDD Action is proud to support this important bipartisan letter, which takes aim at the danger of China’s burgeoning relationship with Iran. It builds on efforts from both sides of the aisle to spur the administration to take concerted, impactful action against concerning aspects of the Iran-China trade. China and Iran are depending on the United States to look the other way in the face of the threats posed by Sino-Iranian collusion. We do so at our peril,” said FDD Action. 

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

September 19, 2023

The Honorable Antony Blinken Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We are writing to express concern over China’s burgeoning relationship with Iran. As you noted last year, China remains the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order.” In 2023, its presence is clearly felt in every corner of the world. The Chinese-Iranian alliance presents a unique challenge and dangerous partnership antithetical to American national security interests. China is participating in the Iranian oil trade, bolstering Tehran’s ballistic missile program, supplying drone parts for Russia’s use against Ukraine, and disregarding Iran’s backing of terror groups and their proxies. This cannot be tolerated.

Despite strict U.S. sanctions designed to curb the regime’s oil trade, China is rapidly increasing its importation of Iranian oil. Tanker-trackers estimate that Iranian oil exports to China more than doubled last year. China’s willful disregard of Iranian oil sanctions reduces economic pressure on Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, and continued bankrolling of malign activities around the world.

Recent reports that China is considering supplying Iran with ammonium perchlorate, or AP — a “key chemical compound used to propel ballistic missiles” — are particularly concerning. These propellants power dangerous weapons that can reach our allies in the region, including Israel. Tehran has held talks with Chinese officials to procure this lethal chemical to boost their arsenal of missiles. It is dangerous and unacceptable for China to assist Iran’s missile program, and we encourage the Administration to do everything in its power to stop the sale of AP.

Through Iran, China aids Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Chinese companies continue to supply Iran with components for drones, which are quickly shipped to Russia for military use. This process takes only a matter of months, with devastating consequences for Ukraine. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) recently sanctioned a network of China-based companies for the sale and shipment of thousands of aerospace components to the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA), including components that can be used for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). HESA contributed to the production of the Shahed-136 UAV model that Iran has exported to Russia, and Iran has used these “suicide drones” to attack commercial oil tankers. Despite U.S. attempts to squander these efforts, Chinese influence and direct participation in the conflict continues, inflating Iran’s already outsized role in the war.

In the Middle East, our focus remains on eliminating radical, ideologically motivated terror and promoting stability and peace. The success of both of these efforts depends on maintaining our strong bilateral relationship with Israel. Above all, we must prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening our greatest ally in the region. Yet, China’s activities in the Middle East make these already complicated challenges more difficult and dangerous.

China is indifferent toward existing sanctions on Iran; Iranian support for Hamas and Hezbollah; and Iran’s continued role as the leading state sponsor of terror.

We must not allow China to put our values and our vision for global stability, peace, and prosperity at risk. We encourage the Department of State to more publicly voice concern about China’s growing relationship with Iran and to fully enforce all U.S. sanctions on Iran by designating Chinese entities that violate them. We look forward to working with the Administration to protect our national interests and those of our allies from the challenges posed by China and Iran.

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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