Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing, May 2018
Thomas Peter / Reuters

In May, President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. A few weeks later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined the administration’s aggressive new Iran policy, which was designed to prevent the country’s emergence from isolation. This strategy, the Trump administration believes, will force Iran to return to the table and make a “bigger and better” deal that addresses the president’s concerns with the existing agreement. For Tehran, a full economic recovery and renewed ties with Western countries now seem unlikely. But this doesn’t mean that the Trump administration’s plans will succeed.

For the better part of two decades, Iran’s leadership has been hedging against international isolation by developing deeper ties with China and Russia. Today, as Washington once again seeks to tighten the screws, Tehran sees its relationship with Beijing as key

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  • DINA ESFANDIARY is a Center for Science and Security Studies Fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College London and an Adjunct Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ARIANE M. TABATABAI is the Director of Curriculum and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. They are the authors of Triple Axis: Iran’s Relations with Russia and China.

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