US Faces Diplomatic Slog to Get China to Back Sanctions Against Iran

From the Guardian:

The US was today spearheading a diplomatic campaign to overcome ­Chinese opposition to further sanctions aimed at Iran and its Revolutionary Guards in a renewed push following Tehran’s decision to ­produce uranium almost six times more enriched than its existing stockpile.

Barack Obama said yesterday that his administration was “developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them [Iran] how isolated they are from the international community as a whole”.

Those sanctions will target a wide range of business interests belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which is accused of running a covert weapons programme behind the front of a civilian nuclear industry, as well as a missile development programme.

To help convince Beijing of the need to act, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is due to fly to Qatar and Saudi Arabia this weekend, in part to discuss assurances the Gulf states could give China that its oil and gas needs would be met during the sanctions period.

From the New York Times:

China — which relies on Iran for much of its energy supplies — maintains that now isn’t the right time to discuss such measures and that the door to negotiations with Iran remains open.

Russia has also been dubious about sanctions, but Moscow officials on Tuesday said Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to higher levels has raised new doubts about Tehran’s nuclear program.

World powers fear the Iranian nuclear program might be a cover for building atomic weapons. Iran says the program is peaceful and aims to generate power for its growing population.

The U.S. and France said Iran’s announcement that it would enrich uranium to 20 percent left no choice but to push harder for a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions to punish Iran’s nuclear defiance. Iran said Tuesday it had started enrichment under UN supervision.

See also a New York Times editorial about recent tensions in U.S.-China relations.

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