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According to reports, Beijing and Tehran are negotiating a 25-year pact which would see China receiving a substantial discount on Iranian oil. China will invest a staggering $400 billion in the Islamic nation over the period.

Following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran has been hit hard by the US sanctions reimposed.

Iranian exports have been curtailed by the US sanctions including much of the country’s foreign trade.

Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat and columnist for several Iranian newspapers, said: “Every road is closed to Iran.

“The only path open is China. Whatever it is, until sanctions are lifted, this deal is the best option.”

The agreement has yet to be approved but it is expected to expand economic development in a number of industries including banking and infrastructure.

It is believed the deal will incorporate military cooperation between the two nations including weapon development, combined training and intelligence sharing in order to combat terrorism and drug and human trafficking.

A US State Department spokesperson said in response to the potential deal: “The United States will continue to impose costs on the Chinese companies that aid Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

“By allowing or encouraging Chinese companies to conduct sanctionable activities with the Iranian regime, the Chinese government is undermining its own stated goal of promoting stability and peace.”

Ali Gholizadeh, an Iranian engird researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China in Beijing, said: “Iran and China both view this deal as a strategic partnership in not just expanding their own interests but confronting the US.

“It is the first of its kind for Iran which is keen on having a world power as an ally.”

Tensions between the US and Iran have intensified over recent months.

The two countries were on the brink of war back in January after US forces killed Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani during a missile strike in Iraq.

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General Soleimani was travelling through Baghdad when his convoy was struck by three US missiles.

Just days after the attack, Tehran retaliated and launched a series of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops.

The relationship between the US and China has been strained for the last few months since the outbreak of COVID-19.

US President Donald Trump has continually blamed the Communist nation for deliberately starting the deadly virus.

Mr Trump condemned the Communist nation for not alerting global leaders of the severity of the virus.

As well as tensions over COVID-19, the two nations have also increased their military presence in the South China Sea.

This week, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, rejected China’s claims over the region arguing they are completely unlawful.

He said: “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.

“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, constant with their rights and obligations under international law.”

Beijing accused Washington of “stirring up tension and inciting confrontation” in the region despite not being directly involved in the disputes.

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