New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The resolution that would impose new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme is in trouble. As expected, China wants to water it down. For its part, Iran has been on a diplomatic offensive to sway non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, like Lebanon and Uganda, and has already secured the “understanding” of Brazil and Turkey. The latter has also offered to mediate the dispute.
Beijing’s reluctance to impose more sanctions is understandable. China relies on Iran for 11 per cent of its energy needs and last year became Tehran's biggest trading partner
The proposed new sanctions, drafted by the United States, approved by the United Kingdom, France and Germany and accepted by Russia would impose strict limits on investment in Iran’s oil and gas industry. China is directly involved in that sector.
According to reports from the United Nations, China is resisting tough sanctions. Conversely, the United States is turning up the pressure.
“We are not taking any options off the table,” Geoff Morrell, the US Defence Department's press secretary said Wednesday.
The comments came as officials faced a flurry of questions after Michele Flournoy, the US undersecretary of Defence for policy, reportedly said that a strike against Iran would be a "last resort".
Asked about Flournoy's reported remarks Geoff Morrell said US strategy over Iran's nuclear programme remained unchanged.
“It clearly is not our preference to go to war with Iran, to engage militarily with Iran. Nobody wishes to do that, but she [Ms Flournoy] also makes it clear it's not off the table.”
Yesterday, China proposed changes to a US-drafted resolution in a private meeting. Sanctions, diplomatic sources say, would focus on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls companies and organisations that are linked to weapons proliferation.
Sanctions would extend the existing arms embargo to include the importation of light weapons and would curtail new investments in Iran's lucrative energy sector.
The draft resolution would also strengthen financial measures that now call on all countries “to exercise vigilance” in entering into new trade commitments with Iran, including granting export credits, guarantees or insurance, and it would add new names of individuals and entities to a list of those subject to an asset freeze and travel ban for their proliferation-related activities.