Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Iran crisis talks expose west's split with China

Guardian - Differences between the west and Russia and China were exposed yesterday during a meeting in London to discuss strategy for tackling the crisis over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme. After seven hours of talks Britain, France and Germany announced they are to seek Iran's referral to the security council at a meeting on February 2 and 3 of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Javier Solana, the EU foreign affairs chief, said he was "confident" Russia and China will back the referral.

But both countries expressed serious reservations about future handling of the crisis, in particular the prospect of the security council imposing sanctions on Iran...He added that China, which has a veto on the security council, felt squeezed between pressure from the west and dependency on Iranian oil.

What happens next

Vienna Europeans plan emergency IAEA meeting on February 2. Iran will try to avoid referral to security council by reopening talks with Russia

New York Once before the security council, the resolution could tell Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. If ignored, talks would get tougher as US and Europe sought sanctions

Tehran Iran could then scrap deal on intrusive nuclear checks, and disrupt oil supplies if sanctions imposed

US/Israel Air strikes could begin to delay Iran's work on nuclear weapon.