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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Obama bows to China again

The Obama administration is so desperate to gain a consensus in the UN Security Council - even if that consensus means that nothing is done to stop Iran - that it is now trying to undercut the United States' own effort to stop countries from doing business with the Mullocracy. With sanctions against Iran's energy industry having overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress, Obama is now seeking to gain an exemption from the US's unilateral sanctions against Iran for the P - 5+1 group, which principally means for China.
Among other things, the legislation tightens existing U.S. sanctions on Iran by targeting sales of refined petroleum products to the country and the administration would want it to include an exemption for the six countries seeking to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program. The six are the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain -- and Germany. The most controversial, by far, would be China.

"Given the Chinese-Iranian relationship, it's hard to imagine a meaningful cooperating country exemption that China would fall into," said a Hill staff member involved in the issue.

One foreign official complained that the administration's efforts would encourage China to water down U.N. sanctions on Iran as much as possible and then push Chinese firms -- should the U.S. law pass -- to invest more in Iran's oil and gas sector.

Similar behavior has been seen in Chinese companies before. Over the course of the past decade, Japanese firms, under U.S. pressure, have divested significantly in Iran's oil and gas industry. As they have pulled out, China has moved in.

Today China has commitments of more than $80 billion in Iran's energy sector. Japan, which once had a 70 percent interest in the Azadegan oil field, has reduced it to 10 percent. Last August, a Chinese consortium led by the Chinese National Petroleum Company signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $3 billion in the field.
As you might imagine, America's (former?) allies are furious.
"We're absolutely flabbergasted," said one senior official from a foreign country friendly to the United States. "Tell me what exactly have the Chinese done to deserve this?" Japan and South Korea, which are U.S. allies, have raised the issue with the Obama administration.
President Obama seems determined to ensure that Iran becomes a nuclear power. What could go wrong?

UPDATE 11:15 PM

More on this from Jennifer Rubin here.

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