A senior Iran Intelligence Ministry official said China was among 90 countries "queuing up" to buy Iran-made drones, according to a report by the moderate Entekhab news agency on Wednesday.
The top adviser, whose name remained undisclosed apparently for security reasons, made the comments during a book-unveiling ceremony at the international Imam Khomeini University in the city of Qazvin.
"Our power has grown to levels where China is waiting in line to buy 15,000 of our drones," declared the official, also introduced by the report as the director of the Intelligence Ministry's Think Tank for Political Research.
The senior adviser hailed Iran's "look to the east" policy, a notion promoted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which calls for an expansion of ties with China and Russia as a long-term strategy to fight off "Western hegemony" and mitigate sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The eastward approach, according to the intelligence official, has paid off by tilting the balance of global power in Iran's favor and to the disadvantage of the West. "And the Ukraine war is an example," he said, without explaining whether that was confirmation of Iran's cooperation with Russia in the war.
Tehran has been under relentless Western criticism over its siding with and arming of Moscow in the conflict. Iran's deliveries of combat drones, in particular, have been placed under the spotlight, as the West accuses Tehran of shipping them to be used in Russia's deadly operations. Iranian authorities deny such deliveries and have only admitted that a limited number were exported prior to the outbreak of the war.
Adding to the mounting evidence was a CNN report on Thursday saying Iran appeared to be upgrading the drones provided to Russia to levels that were meant to cause maximum damage on Ukrainian infrastructure. The report has relied on findings jointly produced by the UK-based Conflict Armament Research and the Ukrainian military.
Tehran has yet to address the latest accusation that came only four days after a Wall Street Journal report revealed that the Islamic Republic was helping with the setup of a factory in Russia where some 6,000 Iran-designed drones were planned to be manufactured.