China president Hu Jintao and President Obama agreed today to work together on a package of sanctions against Iran, in what one national security officer called a "substantive and positive step forward." In order to bring the Chinese president over to his side, Obama had to reassure Hu that if Iran cuts off oil shipments to China, the U.S would ensure that the country gets the oil it needs. Diplomatic teams have been told to get right to work on drafting the sanctions, which could be ready within weeks.
Jeff Bader, the National Security Staff senior director for Asian Affairs, called the development a "sign of international unity on Iran." But the Times notes that this agreement seems similar to others made between China and the Bush administration that ended up not doing much. Also, Hu "made no specific commitment to backing measures that the United States considers severe enough to force a change in direction in Iran’s nuclear program."