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Ex-IDF Intel Chief: Iranian-Chinese deal is troubling for the Jewish state

Intelligence sharing one of the most "worrying clauses" as China seeks to fill American void in Middle East

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issue a joint statement on establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership, March 27, 2021 (Photo: Twitter/Chinese MFA)

A former Israeli military intelligence chief warned that the recently signed 25-year strategic Chinese-Iranian mega deal is troubling for Israel as it contains a military dimension that includes joint training, research and intelligence sharing. 

The record $400-billion Chinese-Iranian deal covers vast areas of economic and security cooperation between the two countries. 

Amos Yadlin, who currently leads the Institute for National Security Studies, is particularly troubled by the military intelligence component. 

“One of the most worrying clauses in the agreement between Iran and China is the intelligence sharing,” the former head of Israel Defense Forces intelligence, told the Hebrew-language news site, Ynet. 

Yadlin’s concerns likely stem from the fact that China enjoys close relations with both Iran and Israel. While China imports a considerable amount of oil from Iran, China is also heavily involved in the Israeli tech sector. The emerging Chinese-Israeli ties have also included military cooperation where China acquired advanced Israeli military technology.

Israel should therefore be concerned that China could potentially share sensitive military intelligence and technology with Iran if it served the Chinese regime’s interests to do so. 

This worry is not unfounded. Unlike America’s perception of strategic allies in the Middle East and elsewhere, China’s foreign policy is exclusively driven by self-interests. 

Yadlin also warned that China could indirectly enable Iran to eventually develop an arsenal of nuclear bombs. 

“On a fundamental level, China opposes an Iranian nuclear bomb, but on the other hand, it is not helping to stop Iran,” said Yadlin. 

Yadlin also believes that the emerging Chinese-Iranian alliance could potentially make Tehran increasingly immune to American pressure. 

“Iran, too, needs the political support which China has to stop the United States from pressuring it,” he said.

Yadlin’s warning regarding Iran and its nuclear ambitions should be taken extremely seriously, both in Israel and in the international arena. General Yadlin is a legendary retired Israeli Air Force pilot who served as deputy commander of the eight Israeli pilots who bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor Osirak outside of Baghdad in 1981. As the former head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Corps, Yadlin also played an instrumental role behind Israel’s bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. In other words, few in Israel or anywhere in the world are more uniquely qualified and experienced to analyze the current Iranian nuclear threat. 

Yadlin linked China’s more assertive engagement in the Middle East to the perceived relative weakness of the new American administration under President Joe Biden. 

“The Chinese understand the Biden administration is not the Trump administration and that allows them to be much more aggressive,” Yadlin said.  

Ironically, China’s growing ties with both Iran and Israel are directly related to America’s decision to increasingly disengage from the Middle East and the international arena. While America is still the world’s leading superpower, China is perceived as an ascending world power that could one day potentially supplant America as the world’s leading power. This international perception in Washington, affects its allies and foes alike. 

Just like small European export-driven economies, Israel increasingly looks toward China as tomorrow’s leading export market for Israeli companies. Meanwhile, a hesitant and withdrawn Washington also encourages despotic foes such as Iran to further pursue its aggressive foreign policies in the Middle East and beyond.

Given Beijing’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil, an escalated regional conflict between Iran and Israel is not in China’s interests. However, by signing a strategic cooperation deal with Tehran out of Chinese self-interests, Beijing could unintentionally set the volatile Middle Eastern tinderbox on fire. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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