US hostility means Iran must boost China, Russia ties: Official

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Growing hostility from US President Donald Trump means Iran must strengthen its ties with Russia and China, a top official said on Saturday.

“The use of radical elements hostile to the Islamic Republic shows that the Americans are trying to increase the pressure against Iran,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

His comments, carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency, were the first reaction by a senior Iranian official to Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as his national security chief.

That came days after Trump picked Mike Pompeo as his top diplomat. The appointments raised fears of US military action against Iran.

Bolton, a former UN ambassador and outspoken supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, opposes a historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal which Trump has threatened to scrap.

Boroujerdi said: “We need to strengthen our relations with important countries like China and Russia, which are also subject to US sanctions and face significant challenges from that country.”

He said boosting ties with China and Russia, permanent members of the UN Security Council, would “help reduce the impact of US pressure.”

Boroujerdi’s remarks came as Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi slammed new US sanctions against 10 of its citizens and an Iranian company over their alleged involvement in a massive state-sponsored hacking and intellectual property theft scheme.

The US Treasury Department unveiled charges on Friday against nine Iranians along with sanctions against 10 individuals and the Mabna Institute, which it accused of hacking hundreds of universities on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Ghassemi called the accusations “false.”

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has adopted a tough stance against Iran and repeatedly denounced a landmark deal that Tehran reached with world powers to curb its nuclear program.

Trump said in January that the 2015 deal must be “fixed” by May 12 or the US will walk away.

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