IRAN: PEKING GIVES WASHINGTON THE COLD SHOULDER
The united front against Teheran has a great gap. China will not sacrifice its geo-strategic interests
By Thomas Vieregge
[This article published in: DiePresse.com 9/30/2009 is translated from the German on the Internet.]
Washington. In Pittsburgh the ranks of the anti-Iran front seem tightly closed. Before the official prelude of the G20 summit in September 2009, the bomb exploded that Iran had built a second nuclear facility in the desert near the “holy” city of Qom. With fierce expressions, a troika took the podium of the world public. Flanked by British premier Gordon Brown and France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy, US president Barack Obama leveled a drastic warning to the regime in Teheran – and was even surpassed in sharpness by his two fellow-combatants.
Obama dominated the press; German chancellor Angela Merkel was displaced. Discussion with Russian president Dimitrij Medwegjew was not postponed. At the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York and in Pittsburgh, Obama drew the Russian delegation a little to the side of supporters of rigorous sanctions.
The Kremlin chief moved a little at least rhetorically. “Sanctions seldom lead to productive results. But they are unavoidable in some cases.” The most recent tests of Iranian missiles have also alarmed Moscow.
WHERE WAS HU?
Only Chinese president Hu Jintao was missing in the sextet of those states that will scrutinize the Iranian nuclear program today in Geneva and in the Iran soundings of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. While the US gained bonus points in Moscow with its abandonment of the missile defense system in eastern central Europe, Peking was stubbornly deaf toward the demands from Washington. In Washington, diplomats had hoped Moscow would lead the way with a good example and Peking would follow.
MILITARY ACTION AS THE LAST OPTION
China’s veto power signals its geo-political interests will not be sacrificed on the altar of the UN Security Council. China’s diplomats recently gave the cold shoulder to envoys of the foreign policy committee of the US Congress. In the last five years, China has pumped 0 billion into development of Iranian oil- and gas fields and refineries, according to media reports. Peking gains ten percent of its energy imports from Iran. Therefore Peking worries that a change of power in Teheran could play into the hands of pro-western forces. The US wants to control the Persian Gulf, not only Iraq.
Sanctions that strike the oil- and gas-branches would be the sharpest weapon against Iran. The trade embargo should put pressure on the regime. Teheran depends on petroleum imports to keep its refineries going. By controlling ship deliveries, Iran’s supply of vital goods could be cut off. Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has promised his support to Teheran. France also broke off a little from the front. Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner warned sanctions may not be at the expense of the population.
In addition Washington threatens with a freezing of Iranian bank accounts. The US government has already won 80 international banks. Last of all, Washington threatens with a military action. However Defense secretary Robert Gates knows a military strike would only set back the nuclear program in the short-term – from one to three years. On Israel’s pressure, Obama fixes a deadline for Iran. Up to the end of 2009, the US will test Iran’s readiness for dialog. In the first eight months, Obama has only harvested mockery from Teheran for his policy of the outstretched hand.