China has withdrawn from a meeting set for next week in London that was to have discussed further sanctions against Iran. The meeting was to have been a response to the latest International Atomic Energy Commission's report that confirmed Iran's expanding nuclear program. It appears as if the United States, France and Britain will have to go it alone on sanctions.
In what is seen as an indication that China will not risk its economic interests in Iran by supporting extra UN sanctions, it was confirmed that it had called off its attendance at a meeting of officials from the "P5+1" group, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which was scheduled for next Monday.
Officials had been due to meet to discuss a third round of UN sanctions against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after it was confirmed yesterday that he had reached a landmark 3,000 operational centrifuges.
However, a Foreign Office official told Times Online today that, unless a "miracle" happened over the weekend, the meeting was now unlikely to take place.
Yesterday's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, confirmed that Iran had reached the landmark 3,000 operating centrifuges which is enough, according to some nuclear experts, to produce an atom bomb within a year.
China claimed that travel difficulties had caused the cancellation of Monday's meeting. However, a Foreign Office said that the country's reservations about further sanctions were also likely to have played a part.
That is probably the lamest excuse ever for not attending. It is obviously meant as a slap at the other members. It also signals that sanctions are going to be a tough row to hoe. The effect that the US, France and Britain can have if China, Russia and Germany do not back them is going to be minimal.