Diplomats from six major powers were to meet yesterday to discuss whether Iran should face new UN sanctions for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear work, but Western envoys said China’s decision to send a low-level official ruled out a quick deal.
The meeting comes after Tehran ignored last year’s deadline set by US President Barack Obama for Iran to respond to an offer from the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China of economic and political incentives in exchange for halting its nuclear program.
Five of the six nations that made the offer were sending senior foreign ministry officials — so-called political directors — to the meeting.
However, China decided not to send its political director. Instead, Beijing was expected to send a low-level diplomat from its UN mission, diplomats in New York said.
“We’re expecting a political expert from the Chinese mission who won’t have any decision-making authority,” a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
China’s virtual snub of the six-power meeting has caused consternation among the four Western powers in the group, which had hoped to use yesterday’s meeting to reach an agreement on whether to begin drafting a new Security Council resolution on a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran.
Diplomats said they did not know China’s motive, speculating it might be to illustrate Beijing’s resistance to punishing Iran with more sanctions or dismay at US arms sales to Taiwan.
“There’s not much point in having the meeting in light of the Chinese representation, but we’re going to have it,” a diplomat from one of the six countries said. “We need to send a message to Iran that we’re not dropping this issue.”
“I wouldn’t expect a particular deliverable out of this meeting,” US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Friday.
Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. Iran says its atomic program is designed to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.
The US and European delegations believe Iran has had enough time to respond to what they describe as a generous offer to Tehran, but China’s UN envoy, Zhang Yesui (張業遂), said on Jan. 5 it was not “the right time or right moment for sanctions because the diplomatic efforts are still going on.”
The process of negotiating a new sanctions resolution will most likely take months, Western diplomats said.
US and other Western officials have said privately that Russia is “on board” for a new round of sanctions, but several Western diplomats voiced skepticism the Russians would support tough measures against the Iranians.
Existing UN sanctions target Iran’s nuclear and missile industries. The Western powers had originally hoped to sanction Iran’s energy sector, but they dropped the idea months ago when it became clear Russia and China would never accept it.
In order to secure Beijing’s and Moscow’s support, Western diplomats said they would probably be willing to accept a less ambitious resolution that adds a few new names of Iranian individuals and firms to a UN blacklist and focuses some attention on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard corps.
They said Russia would probably back such a resolution, but it was not clear if they could get the backing of Beijing, a veto-wielding permanent Security Council member like Russia, the US, Britain and France.
China and Russia, which have lucrative commercial ties with Tehran, supported all three previous rounds of UN sanctions but lobbied hard to dilute the measures before they were voted on by the 15-nation Security Council.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big