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What Bush can win while at the Olympics in China

He can persuade China not to trade with an Iran racing to make weapons-grade uranium.

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When he attends the Olympics this summer in Beijing, President Bush will have two scorecards: One to follow athletes and one to check on China's global actions. Mr. Bush plans to ask Chinese leaders about their hand in three trouble spots: Darfur, Burma, and Iran. Of the three, Iran is the most critical.

That's because China has become the largest trading partner with Iran during the past year (not counting the United Arab Emirates, which serve as transit traders for Iran). And China is putting more than $2 billion into Iran's oil fields. All this Chinese trade and investment gives an unsettling boost to the Islamic Republic in its drive to build a capability for nuclear weapons and to dominate the Middle East. It also helps Iran in supporting terrorist groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

China's mercantile rush into Iran isn't because it is more competitive but because Europe and many countries have been pulling back their economic ties with Iran to be in line with a growing global consensus on squeezing Iran with sanctions.

To its credit, China has tried in a minimal way to be a global stakeholder in the United Nations effort to end Iran's nuclear threat. In the past two years, it has voted in favor of Security Council measures that have imposed limited but increasingly stricter sanctions on Iran, such as the latest one March 3 that bars civilian goods that could have a military use.

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