BEIJING: The Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, had said that China is committed to deepening its ties with Iran, a declaration that underscores the difficulty the US will face in seeking broad economic sanctions against Tehran in an effort to rein in its nuclear program.”The Sino-Iranian relationship has witnessed rapid development, as the two countries’ leaders have had frequent exchanges, and co-operation in trade and energy has widened and deepened,” Xinhua quoted Mr Wen as saying at a meeting in Beijing on Thursday with the Iranian Vice-President, Mohammad Reza Rahimi.The US and its allies are counting on China and Russia, veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council, for support in pressuring Iran to abandon activities the West fears could lead to the development of nuclear weapons.However, Washington is finding little support in Moscow or Beijing. On Tuesday, during a visit to Moscow by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said further sanctions on Iran would be counterproductive.The US President, Barack Obama, disclosed last month that Iran was building a second uranium enrichment plant. Iranian officials say their nation’s nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only, and Tehran has said it will allow UN inspectors to visit the plant. But the US, leading Western powers and Israel believe that Iran’s ultimate aim is to develop nuclear weapons. The Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran in each of the last three years on account of Tehran’s nuclear activities.Undercutting hopes China would take a tough stance on Iran now are the ever-growing economic ties between the two countries. In the face of the sanctions already in place, two-way trade between China and Iran rose 35 per cent last year, to $US27 billion, according to irantracker苏州美甲美睫培训.More important, China has signed about $US120 billion worth of oil deals with Iran in the past five years to keep the world’s third-largest economy on a rapid growth path.New punitive measures against Iran might drive up the price of oil for China, the world’s second-largest buyer of crude oil and an expanding consumer of cars. Iran needs China to help vitalise its oil and natural gas industries, which are underdeveloped because of the existing economic sanctions.Last year, the China National Petroleum Corp signed a $US1.76 billion deal with the National Iranian Oil Co to tap Iran’s North Azadegan oil field, expected to produce 75,000 barrels a day by 2012.Los Angeles Times