AFP: China on Tuesday called for more talks to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was ready to consider new sanctions against Tehran. BEIJING (AFP) — China on Tuesday called for more talks to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was ready to consider new sanctions against Tehran.
"We call for a resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means. We believe there is still room for diplomatic efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters when asked about Medvedev's statement.
"We believe parties concerned should step up diplomatic efforts and push for progress in dialogue and negotiations to properly resolve the Iranian nuclear issue."
Beijing, a close ally of Iran with oil interests in the country, has steadfastly refused to agree to tougher sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme, which the West says is a cover for a weapons drive.
China is one of five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council. The others — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — as well as Germany are involved in talks with Iran on its nuclear programme.
Russia also has been hesitant to sign on to a new UN sanctions regime, but on Monday in Paris after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Medvedev said that while sanctions were a last resort, he was open to the idea.
"Russia is ready, together with our other partners, to consider introducing sanctions" if there is no breakthrough in the negotiations, he told a news conference.
"These sanctions should be calibrated and smart. These sanctions should not target the civilian population," the Russian leader said.
World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran, which says its atomic programme is solely for civilian energy purposes.
Iran has so far failed to take up an offer from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under which Russia would enrich its uranium and France would process it.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hoped to see a Security Council resolution on new sanctions against Iran emerge in the "next 30 to 60 days."
On Tuesday, Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi accused the new head of the IAEA of bias after the official, Japan's Yukiya Amano, said that Iran was still not giving sufficient information on its nuclear activities.
"We cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the agency with the necessary cooperation," Amano said.