Tehran: Iran said on Monday it sought stronger economic ties with China, which has led resistance at the UN Security Council to Western pressure for tough new sanctions against Tehran.
Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari scoffed at the sanctions threat, boasting that Iran could still manage to procure so called "dual use goods" with potential military as well as civilian applications.
"Iran`s ties with China are very deep and expansive. However, there are many ways we have not tried yet," Ghazanfari told a press conference in Tehran.
"I have been told there are many investors on their way. I believe we have a lot we can do with China," he added.
The minister acknowledged there had been complaints inside Iran about "shoddy" Chinese merchandise flooding the market and vowed to "prevent the entry of low quality products”.
Among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has been the main holdout against a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, arguing instead for more time for diplomacy.
The Asian powerhouse has emerged as Iran`s leading economic partner, investing heavily in its energy sector and filling the gaps left by Western firms which have pulled out in the face of US sanctions against companies doing business with Iran.
Last year, China became Iran`s number one trade partner, with bilateral trade of USD 21.2 billion, up from USD 14.4 billion just three years earlier.