Tuesday, April 11, 2006

China says opposes military, economic action on Iran

China's envoy to the United Nations urged a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme and said military and economic measures would be counter-productive.

"We still believe that negotiations and a diplomatic solution are the best way out of it," Wang Guangya said in New York on Tuesday in comments carried in an overnight report by the official Xinhua news agency. READ MORE

It was not immediately clear if Wang, who is also the current president of the U.N. Security Council, was speaking in direct reaction to Iran's announcement that it had produced enriched uranium suitable for power stations.

Iran has defied U.N. calls for it to halt its atomic research, which the West fears could be a cover for making nuclear weapons.

Wang's comments follow recent U.S. news reports that the Pentagon was planning possible military strikes against Iran.

The U.S. State Department said it could not confirm Iran's claim that it had succeeded in enriching uranium and experts said it would still likely be years before it was able to produce a nuclear weapon.

But its announcement raises tensions with Western powers over the issue, which could lead the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions against Iran -- something that China has traditionally opposed.