Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
WASHINGTON – While the U.S. defense posture is shifting away from the Middle East toward Asia, so is the perspective of another country – Iran, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The U.S. shift to Asia is largely due to China’s growing assertiveness in the region and its confrontational posture in insisting that the East and South China Seas are in its area of influence and all of its neighbors and foreign military forces are to stay out.
This would include other countries’ efforts to acquire energy resources from the mineral-rich East and South China Seas, which also has brought India in the fray, given its demands as a developing nation and existing contracts it has to mine these resources in the region with Vietnam.
The United States has supported these countries’ rights to mine these energy resources while it insists on the right of navigation and passage for its warships in the East and South China Seas – despite Beijing’s insistence that it will not tolerate such a presence.
Iran, however, is quickly shifting to Asia as a result of U.S. and European Union sanctions over its nuclear program, and has found the waters welcoming.
According to regional experts, this alternative approach accounts for more than half of Iran’s total energy trade. That trade comes primarily from China, North Korea and India.
In turn, China and North Korea for years have been involved in providing Iran with military technology, from the development of missiles to its nuclear program.
As WND/G2Bulletin has previously reported, Iran has found a willing customer, especially with China, when it comes to energy exports.
Given China’s more than eight percent annual industrial expansion, it has had a need for energy wherever it can get it. Iran has been a most willing partner, providing oil at cut-rate prices as an incentive to continue such trade despite Western sanctions.
Some estimates reveal that Iran provides some 12 percent of China’s energy needs. Sources say that within a decade or so, China even could surpass the United States in oil consumption.
“China’s energy needs in turn have become an economic lifeline for Iran,” according to Ilan Berman, vice president of the Washington, D.C., -based American Foreign Policy Council. “This dependence will only increase as Iran’s economy is further impacted by U.S. and European sanctions.”
China remains a major contributor of military technology for Iran, as does North Korea, which has been a major factor in Iran’s development of its medium-range Shahab-3 missile and promises to continue that assistance.
Despite certain cutbacks in oil imports from Iran, India will continue to have an increasing reliance on it for energy due to its own domestic growth.
While India remains conflicted over sanctions toward Iran, there is every indication that New Delhi, too, will continue its economic and political relationship with Tehran.
The reason is that India has the largest Shia population outside of Iran and will need Tehran to help contain the Shia against any effort to join Islamist militants in the dispute in Indian-administered Kashmir, where the population is mostly Muslim.
Iran is expected to also look to Malaysia, which has increased economic and political relations with Tehran in recent years.
“Equally important, however, are the informal links between Tehran and Kuala Lumpur,” Berman said. “Malaysia long has served as a hub for international smuggling, and Iran is known to use Malaysian territory, citizens and firms to smuggle materials for its nuclear program.”
Iran also has increasing ties with Thailand, which offers commodities in exchange for Iranian oil.
“As the strategic rivalry between Washington and Tehran continues to intensify,” Berman said, “it is likely that Asia will emerge as a distinct arena of competition. Should Iran’s nuclear ambitions lead to outright military conflict with the West, the Asia-Pacific region could see a surge of destabilizing activity by the Islamic Republic or its proxies.”
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