Iran Sanctions Biting; Cut North Korea Food Aid, Richardson Says

Bill Richardson, former U.S. Energy Secretary, comments on the rising price of oil, China’s role in sanctions against Iran and North Korea’s plan to launch a rocket. He spoke in a Bloomberg Television interview today at the Boao Forum for Asia in China.

On sanctions against Iran:

“It’s important to send a message to Iran that they can’t have nuclear weapons and that the way to go is to let the sanctions work. There are strong sanctions -- banking, economic, some energy sanctions -- and they are biting. Iran is responding. The actions are taking in the threat in the Strait of Hormuz and blocking that. Let’s let the sanctions work, let’s stop talking about military intervention, which I think is not a good positive step.”

On China and Iran sanctions:

“China is on the right course in continuing the sanctions on Iran. They’re part of the Security Council and the international community. It does affect them more than others because of the tremendous demand for fossil fuels here, but I think it’s important that the international community continue what we’re doing. The alternative is military intervention, which I think is just going to make things worse.”

On how China can reduce oil imports from Iran:

“I would look at other sources -- Saudi Arabia, Norway, Mexico, Canada, within OPEC. I think that there’d be a lot of countries ready to proceed if there is slowdown from Iran. Saudi Arabia has already said they would make up for the lost Iranian oil.”

On oil prices:

“The price is estimated to stay around $100 per barrel with what happened in Fukushima, the volatility in the Middle East, the Arab Spring, Iran’s actions, increased demand from India and China, summer season coming into the U.S -- the price is going to stay high.”

On North Korea’s plans for a rocket launch:

“It looks like they’re going to do it. So it’s basically business as usual. We had all hoped that with the new leader of North Korea, there would be some moderation, some engagement with the West. I still think there is. You never know. I’ve dealt with the North Koreans a long time. They don’t negotiate like the rest of us. They do this, they do that. It’s an uncertain situation.”

On restarting six-nation talks to reverse North Korea’s nuclear program:

“I think we have to stay the course and be tough on them, not resume the food aid. But in the end, maybe at the end of the year after the elections everywhere -- they have some in South Korea too -- we can look at resuming the six-party talks, getting North and South Korea to talk to each other. But here is where China is a big player. They have a big influence on North Korea.”

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