Iran Diplomat Proposes Sanctions Club With Russia, China, to Resist U.S.

Iran's ambassador to Russia has called on Moscow and Beijing to unite with Tehran in an anti-U.S. sanctions club to resist pressure from Washington, D.C. and make it more costly for American administrations to undermine its rivals.

Ambassador Kazem Jalali urged Russia and China to ramp up their support of Iran, which for the last two years has been struggling under President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign.

In an interview published Tuesday, Jalali told the Kommersant newspaper it is "high time we created a club of countries hit by sanctions," according to the Tass state news agency. "Among its members will be many strong powers with developed economies: Russia, China and Iran."

Jalali claimed the U.S. is trying to weaken both Russia and China, suggesting both nations would benefit from aligning closer with Iran. "They want Russia to be weak, China to be economically subordinated to them and Iran to become their colony," he said. "That's why we need to cooperate, help each other and complement each other."

Iranian officials have been trying to forge closer relations with Russia and China in an effort to offset Trump's maximum pressure campaign. After withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—also known as the Iran nuclear deal—the U.S. reimposed economic sanctions on Iran in an effort to force its leaders to negotiate a more restrictive replacement deal.

In the years since, the White House has expanded sanctions seeking to throttle its vital oil exports and further undermine the regime in Tehran. The two sides have come close to open conflict several times, most notably after the U.S. assassinated top regime commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January.

Iranian officials have maintained a stubborn stance, vowing the regime will survive U.S. sanctions. But leaders have also repeatedly called for sanctions to be lifted—most recently to help Iran fight the coronavirus pandemic—and urged the international community to push back on what it calls American "economic terrorism."

The regime is currently struggling with internal dissent, a mysterious series of explosions at sensitive military and industrial sites, and the continued economic woes wrought by American sanctions.

Both Russia and China have also been hit by American sanctions. Moscow was targeted for a range of malign activities including meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its military activity in Ukraine, while China was hit with sanctions more recently over human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Jalali told Kommersant that Tehran has "something to offer" Russia and China. "We have got huge opportunities and we just need to show political will and make efforts in order to develop this potential in a right way," he said.

"We are a large country with [a] big and rather young population, we have got many mineral resources and advanced technologies. If we make joint efforts we will overcome U.S. pressure," the ambassador said.

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This file photo shows Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, at the first meeting of national security secretaries of Iran, Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and India, in Tehran, Iran on December 18, 2019. MOHSEN ATAEI/fars news/AFP via Getty Images/Getty