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Engaging China in the Nonproliferation Agenda

China now appears to have signed on to a new package of sanctions, though the administration needs to continue to make clear that Iran is a top priority in the bilateral relationship.

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When it comes to Iran, over the last several months, the Obama administration has maintained a clear two-track strategy on the Iranian nuclear program of both rigorously pursuing a diplomatic solution while making clear that the international community must punish Iran if serious attempts at diplomacy fail, as they have so far. The administration now has Russia’s cooperation on the issue, thus blocking the usual tendency of China and Russia to join forces to stall progress on the U.N. Security Council when it comes to Iran.

As a result, China now appears to have signed on to a new package of sanctions, though the administration needs to continue to make clear that Iran is a top priority in the bilateral relationship.

China could be more helpful on the broader nonproliferation agenda as well. In the ongoing 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, China has kept a low profile, showing itself to be wary that the review may bring international scrutiny to the country’s continued missile modernization program, which critics have argued is both opaque and unnecessary, particularly in light of the U.S. and Russian efforts toward disarmament. The Obama administration should continue to make the case for Chinese support of a stronger NPT regime.

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