Iran Nuclear NewsChina opposes sanctions to resolve Iran dispute

China opposes sanctions to resolve Iran dispute

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Reuters: China opposes sanctions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and urges countries to consider a Russian compromise, a Chinese spokesman said on Thursday, as Tehran’s nuclear negotiator held talks in Beijing. By Chris Buckley and Lindsay Beck

BEIJING (Reuters) – China opposes sanctions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and urges countries to consider a Russian compromise, a Chinese spokesman said on Thursday, as Tehran’s nuclear negotiator held talks in Beijing.

“We oppose impulsively using sanctions or threats of sanctions to solve problems. This will complicate problems,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference.

In Moscow on Wednesday, the Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani said referring Iran’s nuclear activities to the U.N. Security Council would prompt Tehran to start uranium enrichment.

But he also signalled interest in a Russian proposal to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil — a compromise backers say would give Iran nuclear power but restrain any moves to make weapons.

Chinese spokesman Kong said Russia’s offer should be seriously considered.

“We think the Russian proposal is a good attempt to break this stalemate,” Kong said.

He said Larijani held morning-long talks with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. The Iranian diplomat was to meet State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan in the afternoon and hold a news conference in the evening.

Earlier this month, Iran removed U.N. seals on uranium enrichment equipment and resumed nuclear fuel research. It says it does not want nuclear weapons, and has the right to enrich uranium at home.

The United States and its European Union allies, who fear Iran might move to developing nuclear weapons, say the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should turn Iran over to the United Nations’ Security Council.

LONDON MEETING

Russia and China — who wield veto power in the Council along with the three other permanent members — have urged other solutions to the standoff. The other members are the United States, Britain and France.

China is also hosting stop-start six-party talks, including Russia and the United States, aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

Kong said all the countries involved should “intensify diplomatic efforts” to broker a solution before the IAEA meets on February 2 to debate sending Iran to the Security Council.

The Council’s veto-wielding permanent members plus Germany plan to meet in London on Monday to try to resolve differences over what to do about Iran.

Larijani’s visit came just a day after the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick left China following a three-day visit.

On Wednesday, Zoellick gave a positive assessment of China’s role in the nuclear stand-off, saying Washington and Beijing had no major differences on the issue. Kong, the Chinese spokesman, declined to directly endorse that assessment, simply repeating Beijing’s general stance.

Analysts say despite its objections, China would be more likely to abstain from a vote than use its veto. But Kong said Iran should have the right to peaceful nuclear power.

“All Non-Proliferation Treaty countries’ rights to peacefully use nuclear power should be respected, but we must emphasise that these countries should also strictly abide by the relevant regulations,” he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said that if sent to the Security Council, his country would immediately halt voluntary dealings with the IAEA, which include snap checks on its atomic sites.

Iran, going beyond its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations, allows impromptu inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Mottaki urged Britain, France and Germany to renew talks they halted this month after Iran resumed its nuclear fuel research.

Kong said China has received no “formal invitation” from Iran to take part in the kind of compromise Russia proposed.

“We hope all sides will use their wisdom to provide new proposals that will create conditions for reviving negotiations,” he said.

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