Reuters: Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday the United States expects to gain China's support for imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday the United States expects to gain China's support for imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
"We have the support of everyone from Russia to Europe. And I believe we'll get the support of China to continue to impose sanctions on Iran to isolate them, to make clear that in fact they cannot move forward," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
Western powers, led by the administration of President Barack Obama, are seeking new U.N. sanctions against Iran over its expanding nuclear program, but China has remained cool to the idea of tougher steps against the big oil supplier.
Acknowledging China's reluctance, Jim Jones, Obama's national security adviser, told the "Fox News Sunday" program: "We need to work on China a little more. On this issue they cannot be nonsupportive."
Jones also told CNN: "China … has been extremely good with us on North Korea in terms of sanctions … I would have to think that as a responsible world power, that China will apply the same standards on proliferation in the Middle East."
China, as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, is a linchpin for any new package of sanctions on Iran, which denies Western assertions it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists its program is for peaceful purposes.
Biden was also dismissive — as was the White House last week — of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent boasts about Tehran's nuclear advances.
"It is not a nuclear power. I can understand why Ahmadinejad would make that assertion to divert the world's attention from the abuse of the civil liberties and civil rights of the people of Iran," Biden said, referring to Tehran's crackdown on anti-government unrest.
"The progress that Iran has made on the nuclear front is greatly exaggerated in my view," Biden said.
Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that Iran was close to enriching uranium nearly pure enough for atomic bombs, but reiterated it was not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.
(Writing by Matt Spetalnick, additional reporting by Philip Barbara and Jackie Frank, Editing by Sandra Maler)