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Obama May Have Locked Down Chinese Support for Sanctioning Iran

Big news from Jeff Bader, the National Security Council director for Asia, reporting on President Obama’s meeting yesterday with Chinese President Hu Jintao following the Washington Nuclear Security Summit. From the transcript of Bader’s press briefing:

During the meeting President Obama and Hu underscored their agreement that Iran must meet its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. The two Presidents agreed to instruct their delegations to work with the P5-plus-1 and U.N. Security Council representatives on a sanctions resolution. The resolution will make clear to Iran the costs of pursuing a nuclear program that violates Iran’s obligations and responsibilities. The discussion was as [sic] sign of international unity on Iran. The Chinese are actively at the table in New York in discussions with Ambassador Rice, as well as the other (inaudible) the P5-plus-1. The meeting today is another sign of international unity on this issue. It’s also I think a strong indication of the way in which the U.S. and China are working together in a positive way on Iran and other issues.

Bader wouldn’t specify the substance of the Chinese commitment on the sanctions resolution. But what the Obama administration has been looking for is a clear indication from the Chinese, who hold veto power at the United Nations Security Council, that they’ll work on a resolution with Obama, and here it is. The New York Times helpfully adds the caveat that the Chinese agreed to comparable steps during the last administration. But back then the Chinese had the support of Russia for essentially protecting Iran, and this time around, the Russians are on board with the U.S.-French-British effort. The question now is whether China will want to be isolated among the veto-wielding Security Council members in again protecting the Iranian leadership from economic sanctions.

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