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U.S. presses China over Iran

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. seeking Chinese backing for new U.N. sanctions against Iran
  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte warns Tehran still a threat
  • China has extensive business links to Iran
  • Beijing has repeatedly opposed a new U.N. resolution on Tehran
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte sought Chinese backing Thursday for new U.N. sanctions against Iran, warning that Tehran's alleged uranium enrichment and missile development programs remained a threat, the Associated Press reported.

Negroponte is seeking Chinese backing for fresh sanctions against Iran.

Negroponte said he would raise the issue in talks with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo at the fifth session of their semiannual U.S.-China Senior Dialogue, that will also to touch on Taiwan, Sudan, human rights and efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program, Negroponte said.

China, which has extensive business links to Iran, has repeatedly opposed a new U.N. resolution, arguing that negotiation rather than economic pressure was the best way to engage Tehran.

The Bush administration is pushing for fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program even as a new report questions their impact.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will discuss a possible third U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution with her counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- known as the P5 plus one" -- when they meet in Berlin next week, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

But on Wednesday the Government Accountability Office released a report questioning how effective U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iranian banks and select military and other senior officials are in bringing changes in Iran's behavior

"U.S. officials report that U.S. sanctions have slowed foreign investment in Iran's petroleum sector, denied parties involved in Iran's proliferation and terrorism activities access to the U.S. financial system, and provided a clear statement of U.S. concerns to the rest of the world," the report said. "However, other evidence raises questions about the extent of reported impacts."

The report recommended closer and more regular scrutiny of data on Iran sanctions to assess their impact.

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McCormack acknowledged that it is hard to measure the impact of sanctions on Iran because of the difficulty of obtaining data, but added, "I think that there is a general assessment ... that, yes, the sanctions have had some effect, but it takes a while for sanctions to have their full effect, and we are only doing this now in an incremental manner."

Washington's case for sanctions has been complicated by the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, which said Iran stopped efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program in 2003.

McCormack said the United States will not abandon its campaign to obtain a third Security Council resolution and persuade international banks to stop doing business with Iran.

"The whole strategy here is to use various kinds of diplomatic pressure at a gradually increasing rate to try to get a different set of decisions out of the Iranian leadership," he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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