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Senators press Obama on China-Iran

JTA

March 14, 2011 | 4:20 pm

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators pressed the Obama administration on its policy on China’s dealings with Iran.

The letter, signed by 10 senators and first reported last week in Foreign Policy, lists foreign entities—most of them Chinese—dealing with Iran’s energy sector.

The senators called on the Obama administration to implement a law passed last summer that expands sanctions to third parties dealing with Iran’s energy sector.

“We cannot afford to create the impression that China will be given free rein to conduct economic activity in Iran when more responsible nations have chosen to follow the course we have asked of them,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The Obama administration had unsuccessfully sought exemptions for China and Russia in last year’s legislation; instead the law includes a national security waiver.

The White House wanted the exemptions because support from China and Russia was key to expanded U.N. Security Council sanctions passed earlier in the year. The U.N. sanctions resolution provided the legal basis for targeting third parties that deal with Iran’s energy sector.

The senators’ letter, the latest in a number of letters from Congress urging the White House to press China on its Iran dealings, asks for clarifications on the criteria the White House would use to trigger a national security waiver.

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