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China, Russia defend trade ties with Iran after US sanctions

China and Russia have repudiated new US sanctions on Iran, pledging to maintain trade ties with Tehran after President Donald Trump warned countries against doing business with the Islamic Republic.

“China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, addressing Trump’s decision Monday to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

“China’s commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions,” it said, adding “China’s lawful rights should be protected.”

Beijing has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. It is Iran’s biggest oil customer, taking in more than 650,000 barrels per day from the country.

The world’s No. 2 economy is reportedly gearing up to take more and “vacuum up much of the Iranian oil that other nations won’t buy because of the threat of US sanctions.”

Chinese companies are also interested in Iran’s oil and gas projects.

State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in Iran’s giant Yadavaran and North Azadegan oil fields and eye participating in further developments of the deposits.

CNPC is also about to take over Total’s stake in the giant Iranian South Pars gas project after the French company decided to leave amid US sanctions.

Iran plans to increase the production potential of its oil fields by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the form of 34 projects, estimated to cost more than $6 billion.

Russia ‘deeply disappointed’ 

As many as 12 projects in Iran’s petroleum sector have been presented to Russia’s Gazprom, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Zarubezhneft, Taftneft and Lukoil for development.

Iran, Russia step up energy ties amid West’s sanctions

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak have met in Moscow and discussed the possibility of Russian oil companies taking part in projects in Iran.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is prepared to continue its oil investment in Iran at the level of $50 billion in the face of US plans to reimpose sanctions on the Iranian oil and gas sector on November 4.

On Tuesday, Russia said it was “deeply disappointed by US steps to reimpose its national sanctions against Iran” as it pledged to do “everything necessary” to protect its shared economic interests with Tehran.

“This is a clear example of Washington violating UN Resolution 2231 (on the Iran nuclear deal) and international law,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement dismissed US hopes to browbeat Iran into submission through exerting fresh pressures on the country.

“As long-term experience has shown, it will not be possible to gain concessions from Iran using pressure,” it said.

Russia called on the international community to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and “not to allow such significant achievements in multilateral diplomacy to be sacrificed in the name of American aspirations to settle political scores with Iran.”

Zarif: US cannot stop Iran’s oil exports

Trump has pledged to bring Iran’s oil exports – currently at around 2.4 million bpd – to zero but Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that the US leader will not succeed.

“If the Americans want to keep this simplistic and impossible idea in their minds they should also know its consequences,” Zarif was quoted Wednesday as telling the Iran newspaper.

“They can’t think that Iran won’t export oil and others will export,” he said.

The minister said the Americans “have assembled a war room against Iran” but Tehran “can’t get drawn into a confrontation with America by falling into this war room trap and playing on a battlefield.”

Zarif also dismissed any direct or indirect talks currently being held with the US after Trump said he wanted negotiations with Tehran on a new deal.

“Imagine negotiating now — how can we trust them?” Zarif told state broadcaster IRINN. “America has zig-zagged constantly, so now no one trusts them.”

The minister said Iran is now in a much better position than the last time when it was under Western sanctions which were lifted in early 2016 under the nuclear deal.

“There is a big difference this time,” said Zarif. “Before nobody supported Iran. But now, all the countries in the world are supporting Iran.”

Syria: US sanctions rooted in ‘arrogance’ 

On Tuesday, Syria also stressed its support for Iran as it “sharply condemned the American administration’s decision to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran.”

“These unilateral actions are illegal under international law and confirm that the US administration’s policies have a proclivity for hegemony and arrogance,” said a Foreign Ministry official, quoted by state news agency SANA.

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