Pakistan would honor sanctions on Iran
Carol Giacomo, Money Control:
Pakistan would honor sanctions on Iran if adopted by the U.N. Security Council but they could do more harm than good and it is too soon for this kind of action, Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan said on Friday. READ MORE
In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters, he said the Bush administration again turned down Islamabad's request for a nuclear energy deal like the one it agreed to with India but his country would continue cooperating in this area with China.
Khan spoke after talks with U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. The talks were the first in a new strategic dialogue agreed when President George W. Bush visited Islamabad last March.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Pakistan has been a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, and Washington has hoped for Pakistan's support in persuading Iran to halt nuclear activities the West says are aimed at developing weapons but Tehran says are for energy production.
Pakistan and Iran have good relations and are discussing a pipeline project that would carry gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to India.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday that Iran has flouted a U.N. Security Council call to suspend uranium enrichment and is speeding up its program instead, spurring Western powers to urge tougher U.N. action including possible sanctions.
Khan said Pakistan believes Iran must abide by international nuclear obligations, but the world must "exhaust all (diplomatic) possibilities" before imposing sanctions that could provoke "undesirable consequences," such as Iran leaving the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
There is broad international resistance, including by heavyweights China and Russia, to sanctions and to military action, which Bush has refused to rule out.
If the security council did impose sanctions, "they are binding on all members of the U.N., so we'll have to respect" them, Khan said, but "there is no military solution."
During his Islamabad trip, Bush opposed giving Pakistan the same kind of nuclear cooperation deal just reached with India that opens the door to transfers of U.S.-made nuclear fuel and reactors for the first time in three decades.
Khan said he raised the issue again with Burns, citing the energy needs of Pakistan's expanding economy and the fact that nuclear "is the energy source of the future."
But U.S. officials told Reuters they remain opposed largely because of proliferation concerns highlighted by the nuclear black market once headed by top Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
Pakistan has had a long relationship with China and some experts say the two countries will expand their nuclear cooperation if Islamabad cannot obtain energy-generating technology from America.
"We have (nuclear) cooperation with China. We have cooperation with others ... All the developed countries, even the United States, depend quite heavily on nuclear power generation ... So this is one area where you cannot shut out som
e countries. It is not possible," Khan said.
The talks with Burns also touched on U.S. efforts to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve their conflict over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Khan stressed the need to take advantage of imporving India-Pakistan ties to resolve the Kashmir issue.