A chance to resolve Iran issue

Updated: 2013-01-08 07:56

By Li Hong (China Daily)

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There are enough indications to suggest that Americans have begun to seek a more realistic and pragmatic policy toward Iran. And the January talks will be an important occasion to see whether the Obama administration is indeed reviewing its Iran policy, especially if Iran gives signals for reaching a compromise.

As for the EU, it needs to keep pace with the US politically and diplomatically on its policy toward Iran, though it faces more potential security risks and direct economic loss because of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Since the EU would be dealt a big blow if another war breaks out in the Middle East, it is most eager to seek a peaceful resolution to the issue. But by following the US, it is losing the chance to take diplomatic initiatives.

Moreover, the lingering debt crisis and the sluggish economy is making it difficult for the EU to take a unified stance. European enterprises have been complaining that the sanctions have allowed companies from other parts of the world to benefit from the Iranian market at their cost, and some European scholars have criticized the US' double standard over the Iranian and Israeli nuclear issues.

The actions of Russia and China are basically based on international law and are aimed at maintaining nuclear non-proliferation. As permanent Security Council members, the two countries have played constructive roles in trying to help all sides reach a common ground to resolve the issue, though they have made it clear to Iran that it should not develop nuclear weapons.

China has intensified its diplomatic mediation apart from supporting Russia's stance, reflecting its eagerness to shoulder more international responsibilities. But China should make more efforts to resolve the issue peacefully by proposing more concrete and tactical ideas.

The G5+1 meeting with Iran is in line with the spirit of multilateralism, which can be strengthened through deeper coordination and cooperation. The six countries should give priority to maintaining nuclear non-proliferation and regional stability over their national interests, for which they have to make full use of the talks with Iran.

It is important that the meeting is held under the principle of mutual respect and reciprocity, which should form the basis of future talks too. So far the US, EU and Security Council sanctions haven't helped create such a situation, though.

It is equally important that all parties be ready for some sort of a compromise to resolve the issue peacefully rather than trying to exploit the political situations in other countries.

Besides, the multilateral platform should try to create a situation in which the US and Iran would establish bilateral contacts. Also, Western countries should give up their unrealistic demands to resolve the issue in their way and Iran can hardly afford the consequences of a misjudgment.

The meeting will be a now-or-never moment for the US and Iran. It's time political leaders in the two countries showed sincere determination and diplomatic wisdom to resolve an issue that has been hanging as a security threat over the world.

The author is vice-chairman of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

(China Daily 01/08/2013 page9)

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