Washington – Six major world powers have agreed to begin putting together proposed new sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear program after China dropped its opposition, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
China, long a holdout against fresh international penalties against Iran, signaled its willingness Wednesday to consider a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, the officials said.
China’s change of position improves prospects for passing a resolution aimed at pressuring Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions, which Tehran insists are limited to developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
No breakthrough in political turmoil
Baghdad – Iraq’s political disarray deepened Wednesday when a potential kingmaker withheld his support from both big election winners and said he would ask his supporters to make the choice in a referendum.
Compounding the confusion, the incumbent prime minister refused to abandon his claim of fraud and his demand for a recount.
A coalition led by secular challenger Ayad Allawi, a Shiite who drew on deep Sunni support, eked out a two-seat lead over a mainly Shiite bloc led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in results released last Friday.
That gave a pivotal role to Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite and powerful anti-American cleric. Al-Sadr’s hard-line, religious Shiite party, which won at least 39 of the 325 parliamentary seats in the March 7 election, has emerged as a key powerbroker.
The referendum could give the Sadrist leadership an excuse not to support al-Maliki and openly back another candidate under the guise of following what the people want.