China finally came out with a statement strongly critical of the European Union’s sanctions against Iran’s oil exports. The FO spokesman in Beijing said the moves to put pressure on Iran and impose sanctions are not “constructive approaches”. The statement essentially takes the same line that Russia took, namely, nothing should detract from the expected talks between Iran and the “5+1″.
Obviously, China will continue to import oil from Iran. Trade also will continue. The last year’s statistics show an increase of 55% in the bilateral trade
as compared to 2010. China’s oil imports from Iran in 2011 rose by 30%. There will be strong impetus for both sides to sustain the momentum in the economic ties.
Meanwhile, has Europe bitten more than it could chew? The IMF is warning of increase of oil price to $140
due to the EU’s Iran sanctions. No wonder, Tehran is calmly reacting to the EU’s histrionics. The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton got some sound advice from the influential Iranian politician Alaeddin Broujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Majlis’ national security and foreign policy commission, who said she should stop playing “political games”
and get serious.
The matter can indeed get quite serious next week even if Ashton refuses to get serious. The Majlis in Tehran is apparently mooting a proposal
to put an embargo on oil exports to Europe. Now, EU’s sanctions are supposed to come into effect only in July so that the member countries could make alternate arrangements for their oil needs. Funnily, the Iranians are posing: ‘Why wait till July?’
If Iran imposes oil sanctions against EU, what will President Barack Obama do? Will he threaten to go to war with Iran unless Iran continued to export oil to Europe? The decent thing will be for Obama to make an offer to the European countries that the US would make up for the Iranian oil. Perhaps, he could also have a word with his predecessor Jimmy Carter how to deal with the Iranians in an election year in the US.
Meanwhile, Tehran is mending fences with the GCC states. Two deputy foreign ministers have been despatched to Kuwait and Abu Dhabi for consultations. Don’t be surprised if the Saudi-Iranian rhetoric also peters off. Clearly, the GCC states have a great deal to lose if tensions spiral up. They will pay attention to the latest warning
by the Supreme Leader’s advisor and veteran Iranian statesman Ali Akbar Velayati to the effect that Iran and the GCC states are travelling on the same boat and they will ultimately swim or sink together.