MA Thesis in American Studies; Esfandiar Khodaee, University of Tehran
China and the United States have complicated and multifaceted relations. On one sidethey are trade partners and cooperate on common security and economic interests;on the other side they are competing and confronting over many economic and strategic issues. Since the referral of Iran nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council in 2006 and especially during President Obama’s first administration the Iran factor emerged among the top challenges between Washington and Beijing. For the United States an Iran with nuclear technology was regarded as the worst scenario since it would change the balance of power in the oil rich Middle East. Furthermore, according to Western discourse a nuclear Iran threatened the security of the US and its allies in this region. China followed its own interests in relations with Iran and had none of these concerns about Iranian peaceful nuclear programs. Beijing even had some interests in a powerful and resistant Iran to challenge US hegemony and secure the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. Unlike his predecessor, President Obama put the military option in the margin in dealing with Iran and concentrated on the sanction policy. In order to make sanctions effective the Obama administration required the cooperation from China as the first trade partner of Iran and used the policy of bargaining and pressure to make Beijing cooperate with the sanction policy. This study in the theoretical framework of neorealism and neoliberalism and through “documentary and archival analysis” and “Critical Discourse Analysis” methods tries to clarify the strategies which the Obama administration used to achieve China’s cooperation. In conclusion, although Obama’s carrot and stick policy worked to make China limit relations with Iran, Beijing is not the loser of the game; because China’s bold policy made US achievements costly and abortive. As long as there is a resistant Iran that challenges US policies in the Middle East, on one hand the United States cannot move to East Asia to fully concentrate on the grand policy of containment of China, on the other handan independent an resistant Iran makesthe US hegemony over oil resources incomplete so Washington cannot use the oil weapon to make China withdraw from its stances on a variety of issues.