US senator: Iran owns China, Russia UN votes
Updated: 2006-02-15 14:20
Russia and China have too much riding on commercial relations with Iran to help the West in curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions, a US senator said on Tuesday, calling for tough measures with Moscow and Beijing.
"The two countries that are sending the wrong signals today are Russia and China," said Kansas Republican Sam Brownback.
"Part of the problem is Iran ... has effectively bought UN Security Council vetoes from China and, very likely, Russia," Brownback, a potential presidential contender in 2008, said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Sam Brownback is seen in Beijing in an undated file photo. [Reuters]
Experts at a symposium at the conservative think tank said Moscow is a major arms supplier to Iran, while Beijing has struck energy deals worth as much as $100 billion with Tehran.
Both of those large powers have also embraced Iran as part of a strategic policy of blunting US influence in the Middle East and Central Asia, the experts said.
"I don't think China and Russia are going to make serious efforts to stop Iran or North Korea," said Stephen Blank, a China expert at the US Army War College.
Brownback said that to pressure countries that support Iran, Washington should initiate a campaign of sanctions modeled on a 1980s campaign targeting companies that helped the Soviet Union build a pipeline to Western Europe.
"Like the former Soviet Union, both Russia and China need international technological and managerial support to keep their activities going," said Brownback.
"No international company is going to treat lightly exclusion from the U.S. market in exchange for contracts with the Iranian government," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran resumed feeding uranium gas into centrifuges for nuclear-fuel enrichment after a break of 2-1/2 years and announced it was deferring until next week talks on a Russian proposal to defuse the nuclear standoff.
The West suspects Tehran of trying to develop atomic bombs under cover of a civilian program and persuaded the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board last week to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible action, which could include sanctions.
Iran says its nuclear work is designed solely to generate electricity for its economy.