China's Protection of Iran Results in Stonewalling at Nuclear Summit
Guess who was stonewalling at the Nuclear Summit?
I applaud President Obama’s realization that the greatest threat to U.S. security comes terrorist groups acquiring nuclear materials. If the USA were attacked with nuclear weapons, the most likely culprit would be a terrorist group, and not a nation-state, like in the days of mutually assured destruction of the Cold War. The Nuclear Security Summit was the first large meeting of world leaders that focused on how to keep nuclear materials away from terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. The Summit reached an international consensus on the need to keep weapons-grade nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists; several nations agreed to dispose of weapons-grade uranium, end plutonium production, tighten port security and other voluntary steps.
For instance, Canada, Ukraine, and Chile all pledged that they would work with the USA and the international community to reduce their stocks of the high-enriched uranium that could be potentially used as the components for a nuclear device. This is as well and good, but the Summit failed to seriously address the 900 lb. gorilla that was not in the room (or even at the Summit)--- Iran.
I do not consider it highly likely that al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group is going acquire nuclear materials from countries like Chile, Ukraine, or Canada. Yes, the Canadians can be pretty combative (just look at the recent U.S.-Canada ice hockey games during the Winter Olympics), but I really do not see these people being the nuclear arsenal of radical Islam. Terrorist groups are most likely going to acquire it from the world’s leading exporter of terrorism, who just so happens to be trying to become a nuclear power. In fact, U.S. sources say that Iran could potentially create a nuclear weapon in a year.
In order to prevent this doomsday scenario from ever occurring, the Summit has agreed to use economic sanctions upon Iran if it continues to enrich uranium against the wishes of the international community. Unfortunately, these sanctions will have little effect on Iran’s desire to become a nuclear power because China is unlikely to be a passionate supporters of any harsh sanctions against Iran.
Although President Obama secured a promise from President Hu Jintao of China on Monday to join negotiations on a new package of sanctions against Iran, Mr. Hu made no specific commitment to backing measures that the United States considers severe enough to force a change in direction in Iran’s nuclear program.
Sanctions would have to be crippling to have any hope of forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The right sanctions could possibly work; Iran is vulnerable. Despite being a world’s producer in crude oil, it is dependent for outside sources of refined gasoline because it lacks sufficient gasoline refineries. Only the equivalent of an embargo on gasoline imports would be sufficient effect to possibly get this accomplished. In order for this to occur China, who is one of Iran’s leading suppliers of refined gasoline, must be fully on board. Under no circumstances will China fully endorse these sanctions. Iran is the third largest supplier of crude oil for China. Simply put, China has too many economic ties with Iran. Consequently, expect any sanctions against Iran to be all bark and no bite. China cares more about its economic well being than proliferation of nuclear materials from Iran. In effect, Iran and China are playing the international community for fools. And this can only mean one thing and lead to one outcome in the future --- an ever-increasing closer financial relationship with each other.
History teaches of one final lesson in today’s uncertain times. Many Chinese see the Great Wall as a symbol of the power of their civilization. To many outsiders, it stands for the insularity and barriers thrown up by the Middle Kingdom in order to keep the nomadic people of Mongolia away from the Chinese heartland. To the Unites States, it symbolizes the difficulty of creating any meaningful economic sanctions against one nation determined to be a nuclear power and another nation determined to be a greater economic power. President Obama, just like the Mongols did centuries ago, must understand the magnitude of this obstacle.