Tuesday, February 21, 2006

China Calls on Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment

Malaysia Star:
Iran should suspend all uranium enrichment, China said on Tuesday, as Russian and Iranian nuclear negotiators prepared for a second day of talks over a compromise to defuse the deepening international standoff.

"Given current developments, China hopes Iran will restore suspension of all activities relating to uranium enrichment and create the conditions for appropriately resolving the Iran nuclear issue through peaceful negotiations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference. READ MORE

Iran and Russia are discussing Moscow's offer to enrich uranium for Iranian power plants on Russian soil and so defuse the row over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

It was China's baldest call yet for Iran to accept U.S. and EU demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for power plants or weapons.

Iran recently announced it was resuming enrichment work and has said it is interested only in civilian nuclear power. But the United States and European Union say Iran's programme is clearly aimed at eventually making atomic weapons.

Washington and the EU trio of Britain, France and Germany may refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions after the U.N. nuclear watchdog reports on Iran on March 6.

Liu, the spokesman, said China would continue meeting the contending countries to encourage diplomatic compromise, and said Iran should abide by international nuclear safeguards.

"The international non-proliferation regime should be upheld, and as a Non-Proliferation Treaty member state, Iran has a responsibility and duty to carry out its commitments," he said, adding that Iran also had a right to peaceful nuclear power.