Wednesday, November 28, 2007

China Refuses To Bow To US Over Iran

US Plans Space Weapons To Counter "Future Threats"

China Blocks American Warships From Entering Hong Kong

Officials from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain are meeting in Paris this weekend to discuss Iran's nuclear energy program. The US, France, the UK, and Germany are pushing for tighter sanctions, in an effort to force Iran to stop producing enriched uranium. But China and Russia are unlikely to budge from their previous position of refusing to increase the levels of sanctions against Iran, now an economic and strategic ally of both China and Russia. Both Russia and China hold vetos in the United Nations Security Council.

The Iran nuclear issue, for both China and Russia, has become a way of slapping down the United States and embarrassing them on the international stage.

Tensions between the US and Russia, and the US and China, have been increasing in recent months, leading to warnings from Russia's President Putin that he is putting his nuclear missile forces on alert and that Russia will respond aggressively to any moves by the United States to position its 'missile defence shield' in Eastern Europe, close to Russia's borders.

Here's Putin explaining to the US why Russia is doing this :
"In violation of previous agreements, certain member countries of the NATO alliance are increasing their resources next to our borders. Russia cannot remain indifferent to this obvious muscle-flexing. One of the most important task remains raising the combat readiness of the strategic nuclear forces. They should be ready to deliver a quick and adequate reply to any aggressor."
China recently broke long-standing naval courtesies when it refused to give harbour to American war ships in Hong Kong as storms closed in. This followed an incident only a few days earlier where an American carrier group was also refused permission to enter Hong Kong harbour. The US is claiming there was a "misunderstanding", but China is yet to comment or explain its decision to block the entry of the American warships.

The Washington Post reported recently that "the growing relationship between Iran and China has begun to undermine international efforts" to put in place measures that could stop Iran from transforming its peaceful nuclear energy program into one that could produce nuclear weapons. But what it really comes down to, of course, is money, power and containment :

U.S. and European officials charged Friday that Beijing is deliberately stalling to protect its economic interests.

"China needs to play a more responsible role on Iran, needs to recognize that China is going to be very dependent in the decades ahead on Middle East oil, and, therefore, China, for its own development and its own purposes, is going to need a stable Middle East, and that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is not a prescription for stability in the Middle East," national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley told reporters Friday.

China now gets at least 14 percent of its imported oil from Iran, making it China's largest supplier and the source of as much as $7 billion worth of oil this year, according to David Kirsch, a manager at PFC Energy. Tehran in turn gets major arms systems from Beijing, including ballistic and cruise missiles and technical assistance for Tehran's indigenous missile program. Dozens of Chinese companies are also engaged in several other industries.

On the eve of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's visit to Tehran last week for talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Beijing suggested that it could reject U.S.-orchestrated efforts for a new resolution. "We believe that all parties should show patience and sincerity over this issue, while any sanctions, particularly unilateral sanctions, will do no good," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

The United States last month imposed its own tough new sanctions against Iran's military, banks and industries, in part out of frustration over stalled efforts to pass a third U.N. resolution. Two earlier U.N. resolutions, passed in December and March, call for further action if Iran does not comply in 60 days with demands that it shut down its uranium enrichment, which can be used both for energy and weapons. The latest U.S. diplomacy has dragged on for six months.

But the new Tehran-Beijing relationship is likely to further delay or dilute international diplomacy, because the two powers share a strategic vision, experts say. Both are determined to find ways to contain unchallenged U.S. power and a unipolar world, said Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.

"Iran has become the engineer of China's economic growth. It may not be like Saudi Arabia is to the U.S. economy, but it's close," Berman said.

The United States knows it can keep China in check, somewhat, if it can keep Iran from growing economically, and strategically.

But Iran is far too valuable to China today, supplying as it does a vital oil flow, for China to allow the United States to do much more than will destabilise Iran. If Iran falls into war and chaos, China loses a key source of energy.

The China-Russia-Iran alliance, still vastly under-reported in western media, will not likely be broken anytime soon by UN Security Council sanctions or western propaganda campaigns.

While war on land and sea, and in the air, between China and the United States is almost impossible to conceive, perhaps we should be looking to the growing likelihood of an eventual War In Space instead :

The Pentagon is spending billions of dollars on new forms of space warfare to counter the growing risk of missile attack from rogue states and the "satellite killer" capabilities of China.

The most ambitious project in a new $459 billion (£221.5 billion) defence spending Bill is the Falcon, a reusable "hypersonic vehicle" that could fly at six times the speed of sound and deliver 12,000lb of bombs anywhere in the world within minutes.

The bombs' destructive power would be multiplied by the Earth's gravitational pull as they travelled at up to 25 times the speed of sound towards their target.

The cost of the vehicle has not been revealed, but a spokesman for the Pentagon's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) said a first test flight was scheduled for next year.

Loren Thompson, a leading defence analyst in Washington, said the focus of the project was attacking "time sensitive targets" in states such as North Korea and Iran, which have either developed nuclear weapons without international approval or are suspected of doing so.

"If we received intelligence that a strike was about to happen on South Korea, or on Israel, we would want to destroy that within minutes and not hours. But from most current US bases that is not feasible.

"With a hyper-sonic vehicle launching from the Middle East or Asia you could be over hostile territory within minutes," he said. "It's not just a question of can we destroy North Korean weapons, but can we get there quickly enough in the event of an imminent launch?"

In January this year, the United States joined a chorus of outrage amongst its allies over the news that China had successfully tested a ground based 'satellite killer' missile.

China can now also add a successful mission to the Moon to its space-based accomplishments.