Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will travel to China next week to encourage Beijing to implement the UN sanctions on Iran.
The Israel Beiteinu minister is the third public, high-level Israeli official to visit there this year to focus on the Iranian issue.
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The pressure on China to implement the fourth set of sanctions approved by the UN Security Council in June – and perhaps even add sanctions of its own, as did the US, Europe, Japan and Australia – comes as the Iranian currency, the rial, has been devalued by some 15 percent over the last week, something Ayalon said was an indication that the sanctions were starting to bite.
“So far we have seen the sanctions have taken a serious toll on the economy, as seen by the dramatic devaluation of the rial,” he said. “However, we still haven’t seen that this has persuaded the Iranians to change their course on pursing their nuclear weapons.” Ayalon called on the international community to assess the impact of the sanctions before 2011, and then draw the necessary conclusions.
“The international community will probably need to assess the effectiveness of sanctions by year’s end, since the sanctions were put into place not for their own sake, but to change polices,” he said, indicating there might be a need to “recalibrate,” or add some sanctions.
The US and other Western countries are keeping pressure on China – as
well as on Turkey and Russia – not to step into the Iranian market and
pick up contracts that have been dropped by countries that have added
their own sanctions onto the ones approved by the Security Council.
Because of economic problems evidenced by the devaluation, Ayalon is
expected to tell the Chinese that it is time now to “press down on the
gas pedal,” not let up on the pressure. This message comes as voices are
being raised for efforts to try once again try to engage the Iranians.
Ayalon’s visit to Beijing will coincide with a visit by Robert Einhorn,
the US State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms
control, also in China to discuss the sanctions’ implementation.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) and Bank of Israel
Governor Stanley Fischer traveled to China at the beginning of the year
to get Beijing to back sanctions in the UN Security Council, which it
eventually did do.
The Chinese have long argued to Israeli interlocutors that they are
afraid of the havoc a military effort to knock out the Iranian nuclear
program would have on their economy, since it is so heavily dependent on
Israel’s counterargument, and one Ayalon is expected to raise again in
Beijing, is that precisely for that reason China should be putting its
shoulder behind sanctions, because they – if indeed implemented
universally – could convince the Iranians to shift paths, something that
would make military options unnecessary.
Following his meetings in China, Ayalon will travel to Washington late
next week to head Israel’s team for the biannual strategic dialogue,
where Iran – again – is expected to be the major focus.