is a certain amount of excitement in the non-proliferation
blogosphere - or at least, over at Arms
Control Wonk - about an AP report that China has provided
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with information
on Iran's nuclear weapons activities.
item is being taken as support for the narrative that everybody
- even China, which has consistently blocked onerous UN National
Security Council sanctions against Iran - is concerned enough
about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions to support the International
Atomic Energy Agency in continuing to keep the Iran dossier
an opponent of harsh U.N. Security Council sanctions against
Iran, has nonetheless recently provided the International
Atomic Energy Agency with intelligence linked to Tehran's
alleged attempts to make nuclear arms, diplomats have told
The Associated Press.
Chinese decision to provide information for use in the agency's
attempts to probe Iran's purported nuclear weapons program
would appear to reflect growing international unease about
how honest the Islamic republic has been in denying it ever
tried to make such arms.
McElroy of the Daily Telegraph, apparently recycling the AP
story, went straight
for the throat in his lead:
has betrayed one of its closest allies by providing the United
Nations with intelligence on Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear
technology, diplomats have revealed.
that's a fundamental misreading of the situation.
that China sees the best hope of resolving the Iran crisis
as implementation of the grand bargain by which the United
States regularizes relations with Iran - and that China accepts
that the most effective, if risky, bargaining chip Iran has
is its nuclear program, just as North Korea did.
view, China believes that a sea change in US policy toward
Iran is the pre-condition for progress - certainly not sanctions,
or America's continued efforts to keep the IAEA's Iran dossier
open, and Iran in sanctionable, pariah-state status.
be wrong - yes, it might happen - but I don't see any Chinese
eagerness to add new unresolved items to the IAEA's Iran dossier
by passing on tittle-tattle about Iran's nuclear weapons activities.
the Chinese simply supplied some information or opinion in
response to an IAEA query, and provided the United States
with a spinnable moment.
US Treasury Department has escalated its financial blockade
against Iran, putting the entire Iranian banking sector
on its money-laundering/terrorism watch list as of March
I look at the AP story as a pro-US leak designed to convince
the world that "everybody, even the Chinese" want to keep
beating Iran with the IAEA stick.
looks at U.S. actions since the NIE (National Intelligence
Estimate) was leaked, it should be clear that, although military
action is off the table, U.S. hostility and a penchant for
zero-sum confrontation are still driving our Iran policy.
fact, it looks like the Bush administration is working overtime
to put the NIE behind it and find as many reasons and methods
to confront Iran as possible.
US Treasury Department has escalated its financial blockade
against Iran, putting the entire Iranian banking sector on
its money-laundering/terrorism watch list as of March 20.
stepped up measures to damage Iran economically by attacking
the Iran-related entrepot trade carried out in the UAE and
Bahrain, most recently by blacklisting an Iran-linked bank
government, through our European allies, has labored mightily
but unsuccessfully to create problems for the Teheran regime
by disrupting its gasoline imports.
lest we forget, CIA Chief Michael Hayden on March 31 followed
up President Bush's imputation of nuclear weapon ambitions
to Iran with his own suspicions:
on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether he thought Iran was trying
to develop a nuclear weapon, Hayden said, "Yes," adding that
his assessment was not based on "court-of-law stuff.... This
is Mike Hayden looking at the body of evidence."
use of the "court of law" formulation is telling.
position is: We're a sovereign state in good standing and
we deserve due process. Unless the IAEA can come up with hard
evidence supporting the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt,
it should close the dossier and the U.N. should lift the sanctions.
position is, assuage our unassuagable doubts - thereby taking
the decision to close the Iran dossier out of the hands of
other words, the U.S. is gaming the sanctions regime
just like the Iranians and, whenever there's a chance
that the IAEA looks like it might close the dossier,
leaks something to keep the pot boiling.
as long as that's the criterion for keeping the Iran dossier
open (and the sanctions on), then anything that comes over
the transom, regardless of its provenance or chain of custody,
is grounds for justifying the persistence of those nagging
other words, the U.S. is gaming the sanctions regime just
like the Iranians and, whenever there's a chance that the
IAEA looks like it might close the dossier, leaks something
to keep the pot boiling.
that's why the Chinese are correct to point out that the key
to resolving the crisis lies in a change of policy in Washington,
and not by continuing sub rosa warfare against Iran by use
with every U.S. presidential candidate falling over him or
herself to proclaim undying hostility to Iran, Beijing - and
Teheran - are probably in for a long wait.
interesting/puzzling sideline, Iran's Presstv media outlet
- pretty much the only English-language Iranian outlet operating
over Nowruz, the Iranian new year's holiday - has chosen an
odd and apparently incorrect framing for the China story:
that "Chinese diplomats" leaked the news that China had provided
classified information on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA.
report described the sourcing as follows:
new development was revealed by two senior diplomats who closely
follow the IAEA probe of Iran's nuclear program. One commented
late last week and the other Wednesday.
nothing in the article implying that the Chinese dished to
the AP's business reporter in Vienna, George Jahn.
for Presstv to pull or modify their report, but they never
they repeated the assertion that Chinese diplomats were responsible
for the leak in three followup articles, including the one
containing the Chinese government's formal denial that any
communication took place:
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday that the
report was "totally groundless and out of ulterior motives.''
The Chinese official did not provide any further details.
Wednesday AP quoted two senior Chinese diplomats, who
spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that China has
provided the IAEA with classified intelligence to use in its
probe into Iran's nuclear program.
has repeatedly opposed the imposition of further sanctions
on Iran, in the United Nation Security Council, and has constantly
called for a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear standoff
that crack correspondents "MGH/MMN" are due for a stint at
Iran's holiday camp for careless correspondents and sloppy
editors as soon as their bosses get back from New Year's vacation,
but maybe there's more here than meets the eye.
China Hand edits the very interesting website, China
Black Days For The Dalai Lama
PRC Plays It Cool, As US Tries To Amp Up Pressure On Iran
Pope Rat In Brazil, by China Hand