Two senior officials from the White House, Dennis Ross and Jeffrey Bader, made a trip to China on a "special mission" to garner support in Beijing over the Iranian nuclear program, according to a Thursday report in The Washington Post. The officials visited China two weeks before US President Barack Obama arrived in Beijing.
The officials reportedly carried the message that if China would not support the US on the issue, Israel would be likely to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. The paper quoted the officials as saying that Israel saw the issue as "an existential issue," and that "countries that have an existential issue don't listen to other countries."
They stressed that were Israel to bomb Iran, the consequences for the region would be severe.
The efforts seemed to have yielded results, according to White House officials quoted in the report, as the six world powers, including both China and Russia, put together a resolution critical of Iran's nuclear program earlier this week.
The development was significant as it groups Russia and China with the four Western powers - the US, Britain, France and Germany - in unified criticism of Iran's nuclear program. Russia and China have acted as a drag on Western calls for tougher action against Iran.
While the board passed an IAEA resolution critical of Iran in 2006 with the support of all six world powers, subsequent attempts by the West to get backing from all 35 board nations foundered on resistance from Russia and China.
While any board resolution is mostly symbolic, it does get reported to the UN Security Council. Beyond that, unified action in Vienna could signal that both Russia and China may be more amenable to a fourth set of Security Council sanctions on Iran than they have been in past years.
The draft urges Iran to open its nuclear program to wider perusal by the IAEA, they said. As well, it calls on Iran to answer all outstanding questions on that enrichment facility, comply with UN Security Council demands that it suspend enrichment and further construction of the plant, and stop stonewalling an IAEA probe of allegations it tried to develop nuclear weapons.