Ayalon calls on China to increase pressure on Iran

Deputy FM tells Beijing's special envoy to the Middle East that China should join the West in casting tough sanctions on Tehran, after an Iranian official revealed China is buying Iranian crude in yuan.

Chinese oil tankers Qi Lin Zuo and Sti-Matador 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files)
Chinese oil tankers Qi Lin Zuo and Sti-Matador 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called on China to reconsider its policy on Iran and to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic to cease its nuclear activities, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
Ayalon's comments came days after an Iranian official revealed that China - the world's biggest buyer of Iranian oil - is using its currency the yuan to purchase Iranian crude due to sanctions on the Islamic Republic by the United States, which makes it difficult for the People's Republic to buy in dollars or euros.
Iran is using the non-convertible currency to buy Chinese goods and services, the Iranian diplomat said this week.
Meeting with China's special envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sika, Ayalon said Beijing should join Western nations in casting tough sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, which Israel has said it believes is aimed at producing an atomic bomb.
Iran denies claims that it seeks a nuclear bomb, insisting its program is for power generation.
Ayalon told Wu that efforts like Western sanctions were important in order to increase political and economic pressure on Iran to change its policy and adhere to international obligations surrounding its nuclear development.
China has long been resistant to the international sanctions movement against Iran, though Beijing has substantially cut oil imports from the Islamic state.
Still, the US continues to pressure China to adopt the far-reaching sanctions on Iran as Western nations seeking to avoid a military confrontation with Tehran utilize economic and diplomatic pressure instead.
Satellite imagery released by a US think tank this week showed new activity at an Iranian military site, raising concerns that the Islamic state may be "washing" a building the United Nations' nuclear agency wants to inspect. This, in turn, increases fears that Iran has not yet abandoned its nuclear armament.
The intelligence was also revealed weeks before Iran will enter into a new round of talks with the P5+1 group of nations, which was tasked with negotiating a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
On Wednesday, Ayalon warned in an interview with Reuters that a compromise with Iran would be worse than no deal at all, mounting further pressure on Tehran ahead of the negotiations set to take place in Baghdad on May 23.
While Israel has said it would prefer a diplomatic solution to the deadlock with Iran, it maintains that all options are on the table.
Meeting with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel expects Iran following this month's Baghdad talks to cease all uranium enrichment, transfer enriched uranium out of the country, and cease activity at the Fordow nuclear site, which is located inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.
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