Senior Administration Official: Iran Not Leaving the Chinese “Much Room to Stand On”

By Jonathan Blakely

Mar 31, 2010 8:52am

As we reported yesterday, President Obama expressed "hope" yesterday that the United Nations Security Council will impose sanctions against Iran "this spring. So I'm not interested in waiting months for a sanctions regime to be in place. I'm interested in seeing that regime in place in weeks."
The president acknowledged that there still is not unanimity among the members of the UN Security Council, making the process "difficult."
"Partly because — let's be honest — Iran is an oil producer and there are a lot of countries around the world that regardless of Iran's offenses are thinking that their commercial interests are more important to them than these long term geo-political interests," he said, in a not-so-veiled alusion to China.
When pressed, however, the president said, "we think we can get sanctions within weeks."
Why does the president seem so confident?
"We've been working the Chinese pretty hard," a senior administration official told ABC News this morning.
The official said that Iran's continued flouting of international rules regarding its nuclear program — the facility at Qom, Iran's rejection of offers by the International Atomic Energy Agency to facilitate uranium enrichment for peaceful means, a February IAEA report referring to possible “ongoing activities” related to nuclear weaponization, recent reports of two new facilities being planned — made it tough for the Chinese government to maintain its argument against sanctions.
Iran isn't "giving the Chinese much room to stand on," the official said.
Reuters reported yesterday that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that "China opposes Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but at the same time we believe that, as a sovereign state, Iran has the right to peacefully develop nuclear energy…At present, we hope that all sides will make substantive efforts and demonstrate flexibility over the Iran nuclear issue."
An in Ottawa, Canada, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CTV that "China is part of the consultative group that has been unified all along the way, which has made it very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable to the international community…I think, as the weeks go forward and we begin the hard work of trying to come up with a Security Council resolution, China will be involved. They will be making their suggestions."

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