Paris: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on China to overlook its short-term interest in Iranian oil and consider the long-term implications of an Arabian Gulf arms race as it decides whether to support stepped-up international sanctions against Iran.
"As we move away from the engagement track, which has not produced the results that some had hoped for, and move forward toward the pressure and sanctions track" in efforts to stop Iran's nuclear programme, Clinton said, "China will be under a lot of pressure to recognise the destabilising impact that a nuclear-armed Iran would have in the Gulf, from which they receive a significant percentage of their oil supplies."
"We understand that right now it seems counterproductive to you to sanction a country from which you get so much of the natural resources your growing economy needs," Clinton said. "But think about the long-term implications."
Clinton's statement echoed what Obama administration officials have privately told China — including in a direct appeal from President Obama to Chinese President Hu Jintao.
But it marks the most direct public description of the US case, made with increasing urgency — and little apparent effect — as the administration tries to persuade China to back a new round of sanctions against Iran that it hopes to propose to the UN Security Council next month.
The administration has warned that Israel, which has an undeclared nuclear arsenal, may make good on its threat to take military action against Iranian enrichment facilities, and spur Arab Gulf states to proceed with their own weapons programmes.
Clinton aides reported no breakthrough during a 45-minute meeting she held on Thursday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi outside a daylong international conference on Afghanistan.
Administration officials said Clinton had "made very clear" that Iran's refusal to respond to offers to provide enriched fuel for Iranian research reactors meant that sanctions must proceed.
Russia, which has resisted sanctions in the past, has indicated its own patience with the Tehran government is reaching an end.