China Reverses Stance with Iran Nuclear Sanctions

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China pulls about-face in backing new nuclear sanctions.

China's about-face in backing new nuclear sanctions against Iran was borne out of frustration with Tehran's intransigence and a desire to display global leadership alongside its rising financial and diplomatic clout, analysts said Thursday.

A key Iranian ally, China had been a vocal opponent of a fourth round of sanctions and could have used its power as one of five permanent U.N. Security Council members to veto the resolution.

Instead, Beijing spurned the opportunity to play spoiler, voting Wednesday in favor of the resolution targeting Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments in a bid to compel Tehran to cooperate with international inspectors.

"China hopes that this method will show Iran that China has principles and is a responsible major nation," said Yao Jide, an Iran expert at Yunnan University's School of International Relations.

However, China's Foreign Ministry said Thursday its support for fresh sanctions should not block efforts to find a diplomatic solution, and called for renewed attempts to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

"China has repeated on many occasions that the resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council does not mean that the door to diplomatic efforts is closed," said spokesman Qin Gang.

Beijing has said it opposes nuclear weapons for Iran but supports an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program. China traditionally opposes sanctions, but it went along with the first three sanctions resolutions against Iran.

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