12.29.2011 0

China a Paper Tiger?

By Robert Romano

With all that could go wrong in 2012, one troubled hotspot to keep an eye on is Iran, a country the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says is on pace to develop a nuclear weapon in the near future.

If that happens, it is widely expected Israel would militarily strike against Iran in a preemptive move to protect itself from a nuclear attack.

But not so fast. China has warned that it would protect Iran if it came to war. In an interview with NTDTV.com, Chinese general Zhang Zhaozhong has said that “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war.”

China is currently Iran’s number one destination for oil and gas exports, making it a strategically important country for the Chinese. In fact, the relationship goes back many years. In the Iran-Iraq War, Iran bought Chinese weapons, and is considered to be a Chinese satellite.

But would an attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities really provoke China? It may depend on how much time and money the Chinese have spent developing those capabilities over the years. Several Chinese firms are said to be aiding the program’s development according to the Obama Administration, lending credence to the fears.

After all, why would the Chinese invest billions in developing a program just to watch it all go up in smoke?

But even if China were not to defend Iran’s nuclear weapons program, it might still take other moves in retaliation. For example, its long dispute with Taiwan comes into view and might be seen as leverage to deter an attack on Iran.

Both U.S. allies, Israel and Taiwan are largely isolated and are said to depend on American security guarantees for their very existence. If it ever comes to war, the U.S. has promised to assist both nations.

Which makes what happens in Iran all the more important, especially if one believes that China and the U.S. would both honor their commitments. Could Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon lead to conflict between the two powers?

That is a possibility that should have all Americans concerned.

One thing is for certain, if in 2012 Iran completes its work on a nuclear weapon and is attacked, everyone will find out how credible a Chinese security guarantee really is — or if it is just a paper tiger.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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