A Triangular Relationship
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Jan Wouters, Jean-Christophe Defraigne and Matthieu Burnay
Chapter 11: European and Chinese perspectives on the handling of the Iranian nuclear question
The rise of China in the developing world has affected, in one way or another, the European Union’s (EU) relationship with every region of the world – not least the Middle East. One of the issues featuring more prominently on the international security agenda over the past decade is the nuclear weapons programme allegedly being developed by Iran. In the initial phase of the crisis, the EU profiled itself as a negotiator of nonproliferation, which was made possible by the diplomatic links maintained with Iran by the UK, Germany and France, as well as by the absence of contact between the US and the Islamic Republic. After the breakdown of negotiations, the EU imposed sanctions on the oil and financial sector, in line with the US stance. Torn between the need to satisfy its energy needs with Iranian oil and the objective of stemming nuclear proliferation, China has also shifted to closer collaboration with the US. However, the Western members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) were only able to obtain agreement from China, as well as Russia, by watering down the measures originally proposed. Furthermore, Chinese implementation of UN sanctions remains below standard and continues to be subject to criticism by Western powers.
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