WASHINGTON, June 21: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that China is moving in the direction of India on reducing its dependence on Iranian oil, hinting that Beijing too would get waiver from tough new US sanctions.
“We’ve seen China slowly but surely take actions, along with some other countries for whom it was quite difficult,” Clinton told the Charlie Rose Show in a joint interview with former Secretary of State James Baker.
“I have to certify under American laws whether or not countries are reducing their purchases of crude oil from Iran, and I was able to certify that India was, Japan was, South Korea was. And we think, based on the latest data, that China is also moving in that direction,” she said.
China alone buys 20 per cent of Iran’s crude exports. The US has exempted a number of countries, Including India, from the new sanctions, which it may impose starting on June 28.
“Thankfully, there’s been enough supply in the market that countries have been able to change suppliers,” she said in response to a question.
Clinton said China and Russia is on board on the issue of Iranian nuclear programme. The West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran.
“One of the real successes of our diplomatic strategy toward Iran, which was to be willing to engage with them but to keep a very clear pressure track going, is that the Chinese and the Russians are part of a unified negotiating stance that we have presented to the Iranians,” she said.
“The Iranians have been surprised. They have expended a certain amount of effort to try to break apart this so-called P-5+1, and they haven’t been successful. The Russians and the Chinese have been absolutely clear they don’t want to see Iran with a nuclear weapon,” she said.
“They have to see concrete steps taken by Iran that are in line with Iran’s international obligations. We have said we’ll do action for action, but we have to see some willingness on the part of the Iranians to act first,” she said.
“So I think it took three-plus years, because one of the efforts that we’ve been engaged in is to make the case that as difficult as it is to put these sanctions on Iran, and particularly to ask countries like China to decrease their crude oil purchases from Iran, the alternatives are much worse,” Clinton said. (PTI)