Iran-China Pact Violates Constitution
The signing of a 25-year pact between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran has generated strong reaction among Iranians, many of whom took to social media to object with some describing it as a “plundering of Iran’s resources.”
Lack of information about the agreement has put the spotlight on Article 153 of Iran’s Constitution, which states, “Any form of agreement resulting in foreign control over the natural resources, economy, army, or culture of the country, as well as other aspects of the national life, is forbidden.”
Moreover, Article 77 makes legislative approval a requirement: “International treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements must be approved by [Parliament].”
In addition, Article 125 reiterates the legislature’s role: “The President or his legal representative has the authority to sign treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements concluded by the Iranian government with other governments, as well as agreements pertaining to international organizations, after obtaining the approval of the [Parliament].”
Iranian authorities have tried to reject the need for legislative approval, but the constitutional articles are irrefutable: Representatives of the people in Parliament must give their blessing to the pact with China to make it binding and valid. The current, largely pro-establishment members of Parliament, who were heavily vetted by the ultra-conservative Guardian Council before being elected, have generally been quiet about being denied their constitutional right to vote on the agreement. They were not even consulted or informed about its details.
The government in Tehran has not only side-stepped constitutional requirements but also kept the public completely in the dark in order to conceal the concessions made to Beijing–blatantly disregarding the rights of Iranian citizens and angering many.
Discussions on social media indicate particular concern for the potential violation of Article 153 of the Constitution regarding “foreign control over the natural resources, economy, army, or culture of the country.”
The absence of detailed facts and figures has led to speculation that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been far too generous in giving away precious resources because of the enormous pressures caused by corruption, mismanagement, and crippling U.S. sanctions.
There is another reason why the government avoided legislative approval. Based on Article 2 of the Civil Code, legislative enactments come into force 15 days after being published. That means even if Parliament had approved the pact, the authorities did not want it publicized.
After the signing was announced, many Iranians criticized the secrecy and silence surrounding the agreement, which reminded them of the government’s response to the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 and the massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters in November 2019.
In the days following the agreement, protests were held in a number of cities, including Karaj, west of Tehran, in Rasht in the north of the country, and in Kazeroon in the south, with some chanting “Iran is nor for sale.” However, the authorities remain adamant in concealing details from the public.
“The cooperation document between Iran and China is not a detailed contract or agreement for the next 25 years but rather a letter of intent, or a roadmap, for future cooperation between the two countries in the coming years,” said Kamal Kharrazi, chairman of the Foreign Relations Strategic Council, and one of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s closest advisers.
Iranian authorities’ touting of the document as a mere “letter of intent” is meant to pacify and distract from their illegal handling of the process, and from their violation of citizens’ basic right to be informed of major national decisions that would impact their lives for many years to come.
Read this article in Persian.