House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), currently on a Congressional Delegation trip (CoDel) to China, discussed his concerns about Iran’s nuclear program with Chinese leaders. Most likely, Berman is hoping to convince the Chinese to support another round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, modeled off of his bill, H.R. 2194, that seeks to impose a gasoline embargo on Iran.
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Berman and his colleagues pressed Chinese leaders to continue working closely with the international community to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
“A nuclear weapons-capable Iran would be a threat to security and stability in the Persian Gulf and beyond,” Berman said. “By continuing to enrich uranium, Iran is flouting the will of the international community, as expressed in numerous UN Security Council resolutions supported by both the US and China.
“The clock is ticking on Iran to engage in serious dialogue regarding this matter,” Berman added. “If it does not respond to our offer of engagement by early this fall, I believe the international community, including China, must move to impose tougher economic measures to change Iran’s policies. In my meetings, I have emphasized to leaders here that China and the United States share a common goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and ensuring that peace and stability are maintained in the Middle East. I also urged the Chinese that we must continue to work in close cooperation with each other and our partners in the Security Council to convince Tehran to change direction before it’s too late.”
But Berman and his colleagues also expressed “deep disappointment” with recent multi-billion-dollar energy deals signed with Iran by Chinese state-owned companies. “This is exactly the wrong signal to send to Iran at a time when Tehran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the international community,” Berman said.
In late April Berman introduced the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194), bipartisan legislation that would bar from the U.S. market companies that are involved in exporting refined petroleum products to Iran or in helping Iran increase or maintain its existing domestic refining capacity. He has held off bringing the bill up for consideration before the Foreign Affairs Committee in order to give the Obama Administration and its international partners time to work on diplomacy with Iran.