China will discuss new Iran sanctions
Robert Burns & Matthew Lee – Associated Press March 31, 2010
China, long a holdout against new international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, signaled its willingness Wednesday to consider a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, two U.S. officials said.
That would appear to improve prospects for passing a resolution aimed at pressuring Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions, which Tehran insists are limited to developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
President Barack Obama had said Tuesday he hoped to have Iran sanctions in place within weeks — a timetable that appeared highly ambitious given China's reluctance to even discuss specific sanctions.
On Wednesday, however, two U.S. officials said that in a phone call among officials from the five permanent members of the Security Council — plus Germany — the Chinese representative said his country was prepared to discuss specific potential sanctions.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the diplomatic talks are ongoing.
One of the officials said China had made a "commitment" to discuss the specifics of a Security Council resolution, and that on that basis the U.S. would press ahead with an effort to pass such a measure. The officials cautioned that this does not mean there is yet a full consensus on U.N. sanctions.
The Obama administration is hoping to get a U.N. resolution by the end of April. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has not publicly cited a specific timetable but in recent days has sounded more optimistic about the chances of getting China to agree that new penalties are needed to force Iran's hand.
"We see a growing awareness on the part of many countries, including China, as to the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran to regional and global stability, to our oil supply, and we think that there will be a consensus reached as to the best way forward," Clinton told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa.
Last updated 03/04/2010