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A triangular chess board

For anyone thinking that the dispute over Iranian nuclear weapons was an issue between two sides - Iran and the rest of the world, the agreement announced today that the Chinese and Russian governments are "in accord" in their stand on the issue should be an eye opener.

The announcement, which comes after a two-day visit of Vladimir Putin to Beijing, states that China and Russia "agreed the Iran nuclear issue should be resolved through diplomatic means" and further says "all the related parties should display flexibility and patience". In addition, both countries would "delete large sections of the draft statement the Security Council has been studying for nearly two weeks" as they fear that Security Council involvement could too easily lead to punitive measures, which they view as unhelpful to the situation.

The statement stands in stark contrast to sabre-rattling this week from the US government about preemptive strike policy and reputed links of Iran to the Iraqi unsurgency. While these comments were widely understood as an announcement to the American public and the world that the administration was seriously considering military options in Iran, it is likely that they were meant to show a firm face to the Iranian government and strengthen the administration's support at home, which has been slipping in recent months.

Today's Chinese and Russian joint announcement indicates that "the rest of the world" is divided on exactly how to handle Iran. The Chinese are far more reliant on Mid-East oil that the Americans and so are understandably more reluctant to back a military solution to the problem. At best, this opens the possibility for greater creativity in negotiations - sort of a good negotiator/bad negotiator scenario. However, it could lead to more serious squabbling between the Americans and Chinese, which will not be helpfult with the North Korean issue likely to arise in the not-too-distant future.

In any case, this announcement appears to make a unilateral American attack on Iran less likely, at least in the near-term, and for what it's worth, the Bush Administration now has to share the leading role with Russia and China in decisions on the matter.

Given the previous Russian solution to this crisis - have the uranium processes in Russian plants and taken to Iran for use in civilian reactors - feel on deaf ears in the US, this is not a surprising turn of events.

What kind of bizzarro world do we live in now that China and Russia are teaming up to do the right thing?

Oh yes, that would be Dubya's faith-based world...

I don't think it's really all that bizarre to have the Russians and the Chinese involved in this in the way they are. Iran is in their backyard, and it and it's neighbours are incredible important economically to both nations.

The scattered approach of the Americans has really got me curious though - I think that this Administration is totally panicking over this issue. If you've read any of my previous posts on this, you'll know that I believe that there is an economic underpinning that is far more important to the US than one more whacko state getting a bomb.

This announcement is going to make it much harder for the Americans to do what they really want to do, which I think is attack Iran. They do not have the troops to do it successfully and will need the help of allies, but if China and Russia put their hands in their pockets, or worse, it really ties them up.

Well, bizzaro in a sense that at one time, when we were kids or in highschool, even university (for me the late 86 to 91), Russia and China were the bad guys that unilaterally invaded countries and were the bad guys and the US was the one using diplomacy to prevent things from going south.

My how times have changed.

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