Ayalon to confront China over Iran sanctions

Deputy FM says devaluation of Iranian currency indicates sanctions starting to bite; will tell Beijing there is need to keep ‘foot on the gas.’

Danny Ayalon 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Danny Ayalon 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
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 Iranian oil.
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.