BBC World News & Reuters – 2007-12-07 23:04:59
China Questions UN Iran Sanctions
BBC World News
(December 6, 2007) — China’s ambassador to the UN says a new US intelligence report on Iran’s nuclear programme raises questions about the need for new sanctions.
The ambassador, Wang Guangya, said the UN Security Council would have to consider the new information because “now things have changed”.
A US intelligence report released on Monday said Iran halted a nuclear weapons programme in 2003.
The US and its European allies are still pushing for sanctions on Iran.
Mr Wang was asked whether the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran made the prospect of a third round of UN sanctions against Iran less likely.
“I think the council members will have to consider that, because I think we all start from the presumption that now things have changed,” he said.
He said diplomats would have to think about the implications of the report for Security Council action.
China has reluctantly supported two rounds of UN sanctions against Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium.
The assent of China – and Russia – is crucial if the UN is to pass a third round of sanctions. Both countries wield a veto over Security Council decisions.
The text of a draft resolution could be circulated by the end of the week, says the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan at the UN.
© BBC MMVII
Russian Navy to Start Sorties in Mediterranean
Guy Faulconbridge / Reuters
MOSCOW (December 6, 2007) — Russia said on Wednesday it would start the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times, the latest move by an increasingly assertive Moscow to demonstrate its military might.
“The aim of the sorties is to ensure a naval presence in tactically important regions of the world ocean,” Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told President Vladimir Putin, who wished the sailors well. The rest of the meeting was closed.
Serdyukov said 11 ships, including an aircraft carrier, would take part in the sortie and be backed up by 47 aircraft — including strategic bombers.
Buoyed by huge oil revenues, Russia under Putin has been boosting military spending while at the same time using diplomacy to broaden Moscow’s influence.
Earlier this year Putin announced that long-range strategic bombers would resume patrols around the world and Russia’s long-range nuclear forces have test-fired new missiles.
But analysts say the navy, once the focus of national pride and symbol of the Soviet Union’s military might, is still reeling from more than a decade of underfunding.
A series of accidents — such as the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 — have hurt the Russian navy’s reputation at home and abroad.
Serdyukov said the navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and anti-submarine ships had set out for the Mediterranean on Wednesday from the Northern Fleet’s base in Severomorsk, in the Arctic Circle.
Black Sea fleet ships and aircraft support would meet them in the Mediterranean. He said military exercises would be held during the sorties and that the group would visit six foreign states. He did not name them.
He also said Northern Fleet would make sorties into the northern Atlantic.
Russia has long been talking about reviving a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean. During the Cold War, the Soviet navy had a permanent presence on the Mediterranean, using the Syrian port of Tartus as a supply point.
Editing by Elizabeth Piper
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