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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Will China abstain on Iran sanctions?

The Times of London suggests that China is averse to using its veto power in the UN Security Council, and although it will not vote in favor of sanctions, it might abstain, provided that the sanctions don't target Iran's energy sector (which, of course, are the sanctions with the best chance of succeeding).
Precisely targeted financial sanctions may be marginally more palatable and could yet stand a chance. For all its recent baring of teeth in Washington’s direction, China does not court international confrontation. Its latest assertiveness is aimed as much at making its own people feel better about their economic hardships as it is at reminding the US that Beijing is nipping at its heels.

Above all, China does not like to feel exposed: since it joined the Security Council as a permanent member in 1971, it has used its veto only twice. In the same period, the US has done so 76 times. In all that time, China has never voted against economic sanctions, although it has frequently abstained. It did exactly that even when Sudan was sanctioned over Darfur and then referred to the International Criminal Court, despite China’s lucrative interests there.

There is, therefore, little chance of persuading China to support sanctions against Iran in the time remaining — but hopes of bringing Russia over have brightened.

If so, history suggests China will hesitate to use its veto. If it abstains, then sanctions could pass. The question then is: will they work?
Those veto statistics are misleading. How many of those 76 US vetoes related to Israel? I am going to guess most of them. Why does anyone think that China won't try to protect Iran the same way that the US tries to protect Israel in the Security Council? And there's a big difference between China's 'lucrative interests' in Sudan and its need for oil from Iran, without which its economy could shut down.

There was talk several months ago of offering China oil from someplace other than Iran. That talk never went anywhere. But without an alternative source of oil supply, I would bet on the Chinese using their Security Council veto on sanctions.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

"I would bet on the Chinese using their Security Council veto on sanctions."

You won't lose either! I guarantee.

in the mean time......
We have 'knowingly' entered another threshold which could easily have been prevented.


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