Cablegate: Iran: Chinese Embassy Asks Whether Georgia Crisis Affects P5+1's Iran Posture

DE RUEHLO #2186/01 2351631
P 221631Z AUG 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002186


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2018



Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d)

1. (C) Summary: Chinese Embassy counterparts asked informally whether the Georgia crisis means in U.S. eyes a suspension or slowdown in multilateral efforts on Iran nuclear. London Iran Watcher (Poloff) said this is not the case; international equities on Iran are too urgent and well-defined, and Iranian behavior too unchanged. PRC Embassy counterparts doubted the effectiveness to date of Iran sanctions. PRC officials said China is considering supporting full membership for Iran in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. End summary.

China May Think Georgia Crisis Means Go-Slow On Iran ------------------------------

2. (C) China anticipates that international friction with Russia over Georgia may limit ability of P5 1 or UNSC to take further measures on Iran nuclear policy, Political Counselors Mr. Pang Hz and Mr. Xin Ma told Poloff during an August 18 informal chat, requested by the PRC hosts, at their Embassy.

3. (C) Poloff, aware of Chinese caution on Iran generally (ref), said USG view of need to increase multilateral pressure now, rather than later, on Iran is unchanged. In response to a Hz comment, Poloff noted it is pointless for Iranian leadership to count on the U.S. presidential election to produce a change in the USG stance on Iran.

4. (C) On the Georgian factor, Poloff's personal view was optimistic: though tension with Russia might be raised by the very serious matter of Georgia, Russia recognizes its own interest in preventing an Iranian military nuclear capability, and would not walk away from the main multilateral platforms it has to address those interests. Hz and Chin appeared to listen carefully, and did not comment further. Hz and Chin were interested whether there had been or would be any USG bilateral contact with Iran outside the P5 1 framework; Poloff said the P5 1 remains the sole channel on the nuclear issue, with no recent meetings between U.S. and Iranian envoys in Baghdad on Iraq-specific issues.

Sanctions: The Usual PRC Critique ---------------------------------

5. (C) Hz and Chin raised what they called the "ineffectiveness" to date of sanctions on Tehran; Poloff disagreed, pointing out the continued deterioration of Iran's economy despite near-record levels of government oil revenue and to the increasing domestic political isolation of Ahmedinejad due to economic distress.

6. (C) Hz and Chin wondered aloud whether the western remedy of financial sanctions against Iran had run their course; Poloff noted the EU had just dramatically expanded its own Iran sanctions posture via the Common Position announced August 7; Hz's and Chin's comments did not suggest a complete awareness of the announcement's timing or import. SCO

Membership for Iran: China May Support ------------------------

7. (C) Hz and Chin both briefly raised Iranian interest in full membership the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), citing an upcoming SCO meeting, but were uncertain of date or venue. They said China is considering what the "appropriate timing" might be for Beijing to support such a bid by Iran, and noted Iran already has SCO "observer" status.

8. (C) Poloff noted that, while the USG in general supports positive relations for Iran with the entire region, now is not the time for the international community to reward Iran for its continued defiance of UNSCRs, recent missile tests, and continuing support for regional instability; awarding membership in major regional organizations would be the wrong signal. Hz and Chin thanked Poloff and asked to be informed if the USG's stance against SCO membership for Iran changes.

Comment -------

9. (C) Neither Hz nor Chin, with whom Poloff had spoken previously on the margins of P5 1 PolDir meetings in UK on Iran, discussed UK positions, with respect either to Georgia or to P5 1/Iran. Hz and Chin both use the title Political Counselor, and both appear by their demeanor and comments to LONDON 00002186 002 OF 002 be of similar rank. Both have on several occasions seemed eager to get USG informal views on the Iran nuclear issue. This time they seemed mildly disappointed, and perhaps skeptical, that the USG is not planning go slow or put aside the Iran nuclear issue in light of strained Western relations with Moscow over Georgia, They gave no specific indication, however, that China will propose any suspension in international efforts on Iran. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

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