So say anonymous diplomatic sources to the AP. Bearing in mind the usual caveats about anonymous sources, this is noteworthy on at least two levels.

First, it is an encouraging sign of China’s (too) slow but promising embrace of the responsibilities that come with being a global power. Remember, Beijing did not participate in NPT negotiations and once denounced the nonproliferation regime on the grounds that it was merely “a conspiracy concocted by the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. to maintain their nuclear monopoly.” This sentiment animated Chinese policy from the 1970s into the early 1990s, when, according to Bates Gill (whose book Rising Star I highly recommend), it actively proliferated to Iran and other countries to “undermine superpower influence while enhancing China’s strategic, political, and economic interests.” Today, however, China is a party to the NPT willing to pass along intel on Iran’s nuclear program!

Second, it further supports my argument from an earlier post that leading powers are not, as some pundits feared, exploiting the controversial U.S. NIE on Iran to avoid responsibility for upholding international nonproliferation norms. Precisely the opposite:

By effectively taking U.S. military action off the table for now, the NIE makes it easier, not harder, for countries like Russia to send Iran a stronger signal about its enrichment program. After all, Russia (and China, for that matter) do not want Iran to develop the capability to deploy nuclear weapons; until the Iran NIE, however, this concern was counterbalanced by a worry that the United States might launch another war in the Middle East.



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