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US Envoy in China to Discuss Iran's Nuclear Ambitions


The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency is in Beijing for discussions expected to focus on Iran's uranium nuclear program. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, China has been reluctant to support tougher U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

The U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA, Greg Schulte, told journalists Monday Iran's nuclear program is a threat to stability in the Middle East and that it is in China's interest to help end the program.

"Almost 50 percent of China's crude oil supply comes from the Middle East," said Schulte. "And, so I would argue that actually China has, just from the standpoint of energy security has a major interest in convincing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions."

Iran has been under increasing international pressure to stop its uranium enrichment program. Iran says the program is for producing peaceful nuclear power, but the U.S. and other western nations suspect Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons.

China supported three rounds of limited U.N. sanctions against Iran, but along with Russia has been reluctant to support tougher, comprehensive sanctions.

Iran is a major supplier of oil to energy hungry China, and despite the sanctions Beijing continues to do business with Tehran.

Schulte says now is not the time for business as usual.

"This is a time when the leaders of Iran need to understand that there are consequences for their action and so I think it's important that they get this message consistently from both what countries say and what countries do," he said.

Over the weekend Iran appeared to reject the latest international offer for nuclear power and diplomatic incentives in exchange for suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Iran has said it will not suspend the program for any offer.

Schulte is in Beijing for consultations with Chinese officials on Iran and other nuclear concerns. He says he would also like to see China, a member of the IAEA board, be more vocal in criticizing Syria's nuclear ambitions.

"Being on the board, being on the Security Council, China can add its voice to others basically saying to Syria, both publicly and privately, that you need to cooperate fully with the IAEA," said Schulte.

Washington says Syria was developing a secret nuclear facility before Israel bombed it last September.

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