Chinese U-turn could lead to UN sanctions against Iran

By Robert Burns and Matthew Lee, AP
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China, long opposed to new international sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, signalled its willingness yesterday to consider a UN Security Council sanctions resolution.

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 on Tuesday he hoped to have sanctions against Iran in place within weeks, which appeared highly ambitious given China’s reluctance even to discuss specific sanctions. Yesterday, however, two US officials said 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 under way. 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 US would press ahead with an effort to pass such a resolution. The officials cautioned that this does not mean there is yet a full consensus on UN sanctions.