China, Russia, Iran call for measures to confront ‘US unilateralism’

China and Russia have joined Iran to express strong opposition to the “US unilateralism” in international affairs amid a widening rift between Washington and Beijing over a litany of political and economic issues.

In a phone conversation on FridayChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov voiced support for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the face of US pressure, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported.

Wang said the US is practicing its so-called policy of “America First” and pursuing its egoism, unilateralism and bullying policy to the extreme.

Washington has revived its “outdated Cold War mentality” in its policy toward Beijing, deliberately provoking ideological confrontation and violating international law and basic norms governing international relations, he added.

“China and Russia should not only push their bilateral relations to a higher level, but also stand by all countries with an objective and fair stance to reject any actions destructive to international order and against the historical trend, jointly safeguard world peace and stability, maintain the international justice and preserve global development.”

The top Chinese diplomat said the US is using the coronavirus pandemic to smear other countries and shift its own responsibilities, adding that Washington has lost its sense of reason, morality and credibility.

Lavrov, for his part, said Russia and China should further strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs and safeguard international law and common interests of the two countries.

The Russian foreign minister said the United States is governed based on the ideology of American exceptionalism and egotism, adding that Moscow opposes Washington’s unilateralism in international affairs.

The remarks come as tensions between the United States and China have increased over China’s imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong, an ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies and their handling of the coronavirus outbreak, among other diplomatic rifts.

In a phone conversation a day earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that measures must be taken to oppose US unilateralism, while emphasizing the necessity of preserving the landmark nuclear deal clinched by the Islamic Republic and world powers in 2015.

Stressing the need to maintain Iran’s nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and ensure its full implementation as an international commitment by all signatories, Rouhani highlighted the urgency of countering US unilateralism in international relations.

The nuclear agreement was reached between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group — the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — in 2015 in Austrian capital, Vienna.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the deal and later re-imposed the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran. The US’ intransigence flew in the face of the fact that the accord has been ratified by the United Nations Security Council in the form of its Resolution 2231.

Although it is no longer a party to the deal, Washington has recently launched a campaign to renew the embargo that concerns the sales of conventional weapons to the Islamic Republic.

EU condemns US sanctions policy

In a separate development on Friday, the European Union (UN)’s diplomatic chief lashed out at the US administration for its use of economic sanctions against countries that transact with Washington’s so-called foes.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, said such a policy was hitting European companies carrying out “legitimate business.”

“I am deeply concerned at the growing use of sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, by the United States against European companies and interests,” Borrell said in a statement.

“Where common foreign and security policy goals are shared, there is great value in the coordination of targeted sanctions with partners,” he added. “Where policy differences exist, the European Union is always open to dialogue but this cannot take place against the threat of sanctions.”

Borrell issued the statement two days after the Trump administration announced plans to include Russia’s two pipeline projects in Europe in the list of projects to be sanctioned by the US under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) legislation.

Russia has two projects to send natural gas to Europe, namely the Nord Steam 2, which will send Russian natural gas to Germany, and the Turk Stream 2 pipeline, which will supply Western Europe with energy.

The Nord Steam 2 will deliver Russian gas via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and Ukraine. The Turk Stream 2 will carry gas through Bulgaria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned investors in the two projects that they could face sanctions as Washington seeks to curb the Kremlin’s purported economic leverage over Europe and Turkey.

Germany, a major player in the pipeline project, is also expected to suffer sanctions under the US legislation.

In December, Trump signed off sanctions against companies building the nearly $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea.