Han Dongping

China should not support more sanctions against Iran

By Han Dongping (Chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-03-08 09:51
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For the sake of world peace, as well as its self interests, China should not support any more sanctions against Iran. Iranian government has insisted that it has the right to develop its nuclear program and its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Of course, one should not anybody’s word for it, particularly Iranian Government’s words, right?

But for the sake of argument, even if Iranian Government’s intention is to develop a weapons program in the end, the world would not be a any more dangerous place than it has been for the last sixty five years.

There are about twenty countries in this world have nuclear weapons. At the height of cold war, the US and Soviet Union each had a nuclear arsenal big enough to blow the whole world several times over. Anybody with enough sense would think that it would be enough to blow up the world once, but not the wise leaders of the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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With the end of the Cold War, the world is supposedly a more peaceful place, but the US and Russia still have big enough nuclear arsenals to blow up the world several times over.

President Obama’s budget provides more money for new nuclear weapon research for next year. If the nuclear weapons are really a threat to the world, and if the US is serious about getting rid of this threat to human race, the US should show the world its good intentions by stopping its own nuclear research, and gradually reducing its nuclear arsenal if not completely destroying it, in order to convince other minor nuclear powers to do the same.

A real ideal solution to our nuclear armed world would be to get rid of all the nuclear bombs in this world. But since we will not be able to achieve that situation, it might not be a bad idea to consider to allow any countries who are willing to take the risk and cost involved in manufacturing weapons to do it.

For the sake of argument, even Iran had a few nuclear bombs in the end, it would not dare to use it against anybody, because it would mean suicide for Iran. The US and its other nuclear armed enemies would use it as an excuse to wipe out the Iranian nation from the face of this world completely. Iran can not develop its nuclear program for self defense purpose, for avoiding the fate of Iraq. I am convinced even today that if Iraq had nuclear weapons, or any other weapons of mass destruction, the US would not have invaded Iraq the way it did.

Before US started its war in Iraq, my college invited a retired brigadier general to talk about the threat of Saddam Hussein’s non-existent nuclear program. He said that Saddam Hussein was dangerous because he had an underground tunnel that could resist a direct nuclear hit. I asked him if he could tell me how big Saddam’s underground tunnel was, and if he thought that Saddam Hussein cared about only himself and his immediate family, not about his fellow Iraqi people? He realized what I was driving at, and said that he did not want to talk to people like me.

Many political, military leaders and media people in the US talked like that they cared more about the people in the third world countries than the national leaders of the third world countries. That kind of talks poisoned many people’s mind, but can not stand the critical scrutiny.

Therefore, China should not support more sanctions against Iran because Iran’s nuclear program would not increase any more danger for world peace, but more sanctions would pose a real danger to the world peace.

First, the sanction will alienate Iranian people and government further, making them more hostile to the world. Second, more sanctions will impose more hardship on ordinary Iranian people as sanctions usually do. Third, more sanctions may embolden some countries to take more drastic measures against Iran, like bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, which lead to escalations to the region. It had happened in the past. China does not want to play any role in any events like that.

China should not support more sanctions against Iran for its own self interests, like everybody else. China should learn from the United States on this. The US is the founding party and the loudest upholder of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, but the US has been very flexible with violators of the treaty which do not have any quarrels with the US. US actually cooperated with Indian and Pakistan even though they both violated the Nonproliferation Treaty. More imporant, the US never hesitate to use its veto power o defend its friends and allies in the security council in defiance of the world public opinions.

China does not have any quarrel with Iranian people and Iranian government. At this critical moment when everybody else seem to have turned against Iran, a third world country like China, China’s refusal to go along with US attempts to sanction Iran will be greatly appreciated by Iranian people and government. China needs more friends in the world.

China should not support more sanctions against Iran for moral reasons as well. The US sanctions against Iran is what the Chinese people call “zhixu zhouguan fanghuo, buxu baixing diandong,” (The powerful get away with arson, but the weak is not allowed to have a light at home), is not morally justifiable.

The US attempts will only intensify the hostility between the US and Iranian people and government. China as a real friend to the US should not allow its friend to make such a strategic mistake by alienating Iranian people any further since US relationship with Iran is already very tense.

By vetoing US attempts to put more sanctions against Iran, China will prove itself to be a real friend in need both to Iran and the United States, and also be an important country in promoting world peace and harmonious coexistence. China’s veto against more sanctions against Iran will be one of its most brilliant diplomatic moves in its history, welcome by most third world countries. The US may not be very happy in the beginning. But American people and government will eventually come around to see that China’s move is helping the US avoid a mistake which could have dire consequences for the US and world peace. Iran is already very much isolated by the US and its allies. China’s veto would be considered as “buwei yishen,” (do add oil to flames, or refrain from going extremes.) which is China’s traditional wisdom.

Dongping Han is Professor of History and Political Science at Warren Wilson College, NC. The opinions expressed are his own.