“China sees Iran as a key ally in the Middle East. It provided more than 10 per cent of China’s energy needs last year.” A good way to tell a country’s intentions is to see the way they treat their friends. China has huge investments in Iran’s aging energy infrastructure – let us see what China’s attitude is like towards, the fellow summit members, and towards Iran. It should reveal quite a lot.
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China to join Iran sanctions summit
Source – The Age, published April 3, 2010
China has finally paved the way for a fresh round of United Nations sanctions against Iran by agreeing to ”serious negotiations” with five other world powers.
Officials are expected to arrive in New York within days to begin talks on how to bring Tehran into line over its disputed nuclear program.
China’s agreement to start substantive discussions comes after months of stubborn resistance to pressure from the US, Britain, Russia, France and Germany to impose punitive sanctions. Negotiations will now begin in earnest over the nuts and bolts of the sanctions package, which US President Barack Obama wants adopted before the end of the month.
Diplomats and analysts have cautioned that negotiations could take until June as China seeks to dilute the sanctions. China sees Iran as a key ally in the Middle East. It provided more than 10 per cent of China’s energy needs last year.
The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said: ”China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations here in New York as a first step towards getting the entire Security Council on board with a tough sanctions regime against Iran. This is progress, but the negotiations have yet to begin in earnest.”
Iran was quick to dismiss the growing prospect of sanctions, calling it an empty threat that had failed to constrain the country in the past.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said: ”The nuclear program of the Islamic republic is fully peaceful and the talk of sanctions is a threat that has been ineffective over the past 30 years.” Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, arrived in China on Thursday for talks with senior Chinese officials on its nuclear program, emphasising the need for co-operation between Beijing and Tehran.
Analysts said Mr Jalili could expect pressure from China, which has grown more impatient with Tehran over its refusal to accept a UN offer to have Iran’s low-enriched uranium processed by Russia and France.
China has privately urged Tehran to accept the offer as a gesture of goodwill that could take the heat out the growing confrontation with the US, but has failed to get reassurances from the Iranian government.
Tehran maintains that it is entitled to pursue its nuclear program, which it says is peaceful in intent, a claim the US and its allies do not accept.
Since 2006, China has supported three rounds of UN sanctions imposed on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Yesterday a foreign ministry spokesman said that China’s government still hoped the dispute could be resolved by ”diplomatic means”.
But with patience wearing thin in Washington, analysts expect China will eventually agree to fresh sanctions that would expand a UN blacklist and target members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Other areas for discussion include a deepening of existing arms controls into a full weapons embargo similar to that in place against North Korea, which would have an impact on several Iranian shipping firms.
Measures that could seriously damage Iran’s economy, such as a ban on the import and export of refined petroleum products, have already been shelved as the price of bringing China to the negotiating table.
Guo Xiangang, a former Chinese diplomat to Tehran, said Beijing would bend only so far to US pressure and would work to ensure the agreed package did not affect adversely its investments in upgrading Iran’s ageing energy infrastructure.
”It will remain principally a symbolic warning to Iran,” said Mr Guo, now a vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, a government think tank in Beijing.