Chinese State Media Hypes 'Rift and Conflict' Between U.S. and Europe Over Iran: 'U.S. Will Become More Isolated'

Chinese state media strongly criticized the U.S. in the wake of a failed United Nations Security Council vote, which would have extended a global arms embargo on Iran.

Opinion columns published by Chinese news outlets on Sunday and Monday called the rejected resolution "Pompeo's humiliation," and suggested that there is a growing "rift and conflict" between the U.S. and its traditional European allies. The Friday vote required a minimum of nine votes out of the 15-member UNSC to pass, but it garnered just two. Meanwhile, 11 members of the council voted "no," while key U.S. allies the U.K., France and Germany abstained.

"As long as it doesn't change its stance, the rift and conflicts between the U.S. and Europe on the Iran nuclear issue cannot be bridged, and the U.S. will become more isolated," an editorial published by The Global Times, a English-language tabloid published by the Chinese Communist Party, said.

Macron and Rouhani
French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shake hands after a meeting at the United Nations headquarters on September 23, 2019 in New York LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty

"Once again, the limits of the Trump administration's highly unilateral and aggressive foreign policy are being exposed. The White House believes that it has a right to simply ignore the rest of the international community when it is in the interests of America to do so and impose its will on others," an opinion column published by CGTN, a state-owned English-language television channel based in Beijing, said. "This has been the pinnacle of its entire Iran policy for the past two years now."

"However, no matter how much Pompeo aims to demonize and smear the country, it simply remains in the broader interest of the world to sustain the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal] for the greater cause of peace and stability, and to uphold the deal than to destroy it, which ironically would make the path to a nuclear Iran an absolute certainty," the writer argued.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly criticized the UNSC after it soundly rejected the U.S.-led arms embargo effort against Iran. "The Security Council's failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable," he said in a Friday statement.

Newsweek reached out to the State Department for further comment, but it did not respond by the time of publication.

President Donald Trump and his administration have been staunchly at odds with the international community when it comes to Iran policy. Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. The JCPOA was also signed by the European Union, France, Germany, the U.K., China and Russia, providing sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for the Persian Gulf nation curbing its nuclear program.

The deal appeared to be working, according to consistent reports from the United Nations nuclear watchdog. But Trump was a strong critic of the treaty, even before he announced his presidential campaign in 2015. After taking office, he withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and moved to reimpose sanctions against Iran. Although the administration has repeatedly urged other nations to follow its example, European allies have resisted, promising to stick by the JCPOA.

Pompeo at UN
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pause before a meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on August 20, 2019 in New York City Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty

As for Iran, it remained in compliance with the deal for one year after the U.S. withdrew until May 2019. It then announced that it would begin taking steps to walk back its commitment under the agreement. Iran withdrew fully from its obligation under the deal in January, following Trump's decision to assassinate Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

With the failure of the UNSC resolution on Friday, Iranian leaders also argued that the U.S. had become isolated.

"The result of the vote in #UNSC on arms embargo against Iran shows—once more—the US' isolation. Council's message: NO to UNILATERALISM," Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador and permanent representative to the U.N., tweeted. "US must learn from this debacle. Its attempt to 'snapback' sanctions is illegal, and was rejected by int'l community, as was evident today."