AP: Efforts to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions continued Friday as Russia said it would host fresh international talks and a top Chinese diplomat headed to Tehran. Associated Press
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) – Efforts to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions continued Friday as Russia said it would host fresh international talks and a top Chinese diplomat headed to Tehran.
China urged other governments to remain calm during the standoff over Iran’s progress toward what it says will be peaceful energy generation and other countries suspect is a covert weapons program.
“We hope all parties will adopt a cool-headed approach,” Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a news conference Friday. “Dialogue is better than confrontation. We should work together toward this end.”
Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai was scheduled to arrive in Iran on Friday. He then is slated to head to Russia, which will host another round of talks next week with Beijing, the United States and the European Union.
The talks will be held in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov said Friday.
Russia and China, which have strong economic ties with Iran, have opposed the U.S. push for international sanctions against Iran.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, visited Tehran on Thursday and pushed Iranian officials to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a bomb, until questions about the nuclear program have been resolved. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran will not retreat “one iota” on its uranium enrichment.
Iran insists on its right to enrich uranium as part of a civilian power generation program, but the United States and others accuse Tehran of covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons bid and demand a halt to all enrichment activities.
Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko said that “there is still a chance for a diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear program.”
“Iran has the right to peaceful development of atomic energy, but this right must be combined with guarantees of the fulfillment of nuclear nonproliferation demands,” Kiriyenko said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Kiriyenko said that a Russian proposal to host the Iranian uranium enrichment program remains on the table.
He said that Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium is still on an experimental scale and is far from what is needed to build nuclear weapons.
The Russian proposal seeks to reassure Western countries by guaranteeing that Iranian uranium would not be diverted to a weapons program.
In a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy Friday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi reiterated his government’s position that Iran is not seeking atomic weapons.
“Nuclear weapons are ineffective, and Iran is not going to make them and does not even set this goal,” Mohammadi said, according to ITAR-Tass.
Mohammadi also said that Tehran wants to strike an oil and gas alliance with Russia and is pondering pipelines to deliver natural gas to China and India via Pakistan, ITAR-Tass said.