Chinese government officials played down Iran’s nuclear threat and urged the United States to engage with the rogue state. In one cable from the US Embassy in Beijing, sent on October 22, 2009, Ni Ruchi, the deputy director of the Iran division at the Chinese ministry of Foreign Affairs is quoted dismissing US fears.
“Ni stressed, too, that Iran’s nuclear technology was not as advanced ‘as some might believe’,” the cable recorded. Mr Ni also said that Iran’s “overall level of industrial development” was too backward to have created a nuclear weapon.
“He noted that of the 5,000 centrifuges in Iran, less [sic] than half were actually in operation,” the cable said. In all the despatches released on Monday on Wikileaks, Beijing is shown to be playing a mollifying role towards Iran, urging the US towards direct discussions with the Islamic state, even when the situation appears fruitless publicly.
Li Guofu, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the China Institute for International Studies in Beijing, told American diplomats that senior Chinese officials had told him they would do everything possible “to assist communication”.
China has staunchly supported Iran, on which it relies for a sizeable portion of its energy needs, but Mr Li disclosed that Tehran still does not fully trust Beijing.
“‘Iran trusts nobody’,” he told US diplomats. “The Iranian leadership believed that when… >>>