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China must stop coddling Iran

The disclosure of a secret uranium enrichment facility in Iran should
pressure Beijing to reconsider its objection to possible tougher sanctions.

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China needs to roll with the momentum that's mounting as key nations approach a critical meeting with Iran next week.

International pressure is building on Tehran to halt its nuclear program, but it's also building on Beijing to back tougher United Nations sanctions if Iran continues its defiance.

The disclosure today of a secret uranium enrichment facility in Iran should prompt China to reconsider its antisanctions stance. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China can block any measure the Council might take to punish Iran.

Beijing has long maintained a policy of "noninterference" in the affairs of other countries – unless, of course, the issue is too close to home to ignore (North Korea) or involves the highly sensitive case of Taiwan.

China has its reasons. Generally, it doesn't want to do unto others what it doesn't want done to itself. Specifically, it depends heavily on Iranian oil exports. It also sells refined gasoline to Iran.

On the Security Council, China has had the cover of Russia, which also firmly resists increasing penalties on Iran, an economic partner. But this week Moscow appeared to leave the door open for further sanctions. The change in rhetoric came days after President Obama announced revised plans for a missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe – a shield that had incensed Moscow.

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