Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign relations advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has said the United States would not dare to attack Iran.

"Iran's regional power is on the rise,” Velayati said in an interview with hardliner Kayhan newspaper published Tuesday. “Iran has never been as strong during the Islamic Republic era and has substantial power and influence in the region and internationally now. Americans confess that they have to deal with three powerful countries, [namely] Iran, China and Russia.”

The interview focused on Velayati’s defense of a "looking East" tilt in foreign policy with President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) due in Moscow Wednesday. Velayati, who was foreign minister 1981-97, said Iran's power had grown so much that its enemies, "particularly Americans," realized they could not attack without serious “consequences.”

Velayati also argued that closer relations with China and Russia offered Iran a way to “lift” and “neutralize” US sanctions, which have expanded and tightened since the US in 2018 left the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Russia in particular has been supportive of some Iranian demands during Vienna talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA.

Critics of the Raisi government, which took office in August, and many in the Iranian public, are wary of Iran's closer relationships with China and Russia. Some social media posts claim Raisi’s government has tipped the balance in its foreign relations completely in favor of the two eastern powers and is “selling out” the country.

Political analyst Ali Bigdeli has alleged that China and Russia might sacrifice Iran’s interests, including its nuclear program, to secure their own interests in Ukraine and Taiwan. "They may strike a secret deal [with the US]," Bigdeli was quoted as saying by Aftab-e Yazd newspaper Tuesday.

But the aim of the previous government under President Hassan Rouhani to use the JCPOA as a stepping stone to attract European investment, especially in energy, was undermined by US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, which threaten punitive action against any third party buying Iran’s oil or dealing with its financial sector.

Commenting on the chances of an agreement over restoring the JCPOA, Fereydoun Abbasi, lawmaker and former head of the Energy Organization of Iran Agency told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) Tuesday that an agreement would be viable only if Iran "maintains its power in the region" and puts pressure on Israel.

Abbasi argued Iran needed to extend its "trenches against the enemy outside the borders of Syria,” to “put pressure on the Zionist regime,” which he said was lobbying against Iran. Abbasi suggested that a desirable result in the nuclear talks was linked to strengthening ties with allies across the Middle East, with the aim of lifting the Israeli and Egyptian “siege on Gaza” and freeing Syria’s Golan region, which has been occupied and settled by Israel since 1967.

"We should negotiate [with world powers] but we will not achieve our country's desired result in the talks as long as there is not pressure on the Zionist regime,” Abbasi said.

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