In a statement on Tuesday, Iran's exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi condemned a planned 25-year agreement Iran is seeking to sign with China.
"The regime dominating our country is seeking to sign a despicable 25-year agreement with China to plunder Iran's natural resources and accepting a foreign army in our homeland, " Prince Reza Pahlavi said in the statement which was published on his official Telegram Channel. He added that the agreement "planned with the direct approval and support of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic is an undeniable betrayal of Iran's national interests".
On June 23 Tabnak, a conservative website, revealed that the government of President Hassan Rouhani had ratified the draft of a 25-year agreement with China in a cabinet meeting and tasked Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to follow up with the Chinese side to sign the agreement.
Zarif told reporters June 24 he was going to follow up on a 2016 agreement with China called "The Cino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership" that was a $400 billion project.
Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri on Tuesday, July 7 said development of strategic partnership with China should be "bravely defended".
The Petroleum Economist, however, has claimed that the partnership with China "could mark seismic shift in the global hydrocarbons sector". According to the monthly journal, the central pillar of the new deal is that China will invest $280bn developing Iran's oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors.
Prince Reza Pahlavi has also maintained that the Iranian nation must be informed of all the conditions and details of any agreement which will then be put to the vote of the "real representatives of the nation who have been elected through a fully democratic process".
Iran's hardliners have strongly supported the planned agreement. The Revolutionary Guard-linked newspaper Javan called the agreement "a pact between the lion and the dragon".
There has been no reaction from China to Iran's statements about a long-term partnership.
The pro-Ahmadinejad Telegram channel @Dolatebahar has alleged that "some of the Chinese companies" possibly involved in this project "have Iranian owners or shareholders, which means they are the relatives of officials who have come up with the project. "