AFP: Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in an interview aired Sunday that the international approach to Iran's disputed nuclear program should focus on negotiations and avoid piling pressure on Tehran.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in an interview aired Sunday that the international approach to Iran's disputed nuclear program should focus on negotiations and avoid piling pressure on Tehran.
Wen, in his first interview with the American media in five years, said major powers should pursue peaceful talks with Iran "rather than resort to the willful use of force or the intimidation of force."
Speaking through an interpreter, Wen told CNN television: "It's like treating the relationship between two individuals. If one individual tries to corner the other, then the effect will be counterproductive. That will do nothing in helping resolve the problem.
"Our purpose is to resolve the problem, not to escalate tensions."
China believes Iran "has the right" to develop nuclear energy in a peaceful way under international norms but should not build atomic weapons, the prime minister said.
"Such efforts should be subject to the safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," Wen said, referring to the UN atomic watchdog.
Iran, however, "should not develop nuclear weapons," he said.
Wen, who was in New York last week to attend the 63rd annual general debate of the UN General Assembly, compared the issue to North Korea's nuclear program. China is a leader in the six-nation negotiations over North Korea's nuclear activities.
"Don't you think that the efforts made by China in resolving the Korean nuclear issue and the position we have adopted in this regard have actually helped the situation on the Korean Peninsula move for the better, day by day?" Wen asked interviewer Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN's "GPS."
"It still takes time to see a thorough and a complete solution to the Korean nuclear issue," Wen said. "But what I would like to stress is that the model that we have adopted, and the efforts we have made, proved to be right in this direction."
A meeting among major powers at the United Nations to discuss further sanctions against Iran was cancelled last week after Russia opposed the move.
The cancellation appeared to be a retaliatory move by Russia after the United States called for Moscow to be penalized for its five day war with Georgia last month.
China, along with Russia, has often resisted calls for sanctions against Iran, although it has voted in favor previously.
The cancellation of the meeting came after a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had not frozen uranium enrichment activities as instructed by the United Nations. Such enrichment work can be a key step towards making nuclear weapons.
The IAEA said Iran had installed additional uranium-enriching centrifuges, and was testing more advanced centrifuges as well.