Saturday, November 06, 2004

Reuters AlertNet - China says opposes Iran Security Council referral

Reuters AlertNet - China says opposes Iran Security Council referral: "China says opposes Iran Security Council referral
06 Nov 2004 10:12:46 GMT

Source: Reuters

TEHRAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - China said on Saturday it would be better to resolve Iran's nuclear case without sending it to the U.N. Security Council, where Beijing holds the option of vetoing any sanctions against Tehran.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, on a two-day visit to Iran, said he had discussed Iran's nuclear case with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in recent days.

"I told all my colleagues that China supports a solution to this issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," he told a news conference in Tehran.

"I really don't quite know if it will be brought to the Security Council. It would only make the issue more complicated and difficult to work out," he added.

Iran last week signed a major preliminary oil and gas investment deal with energy-thirsty China, prompting analysts to speculate that Tehran was seeking to curry favour with Beijing in case its nuclear dossier is sent to the Security Council.

China is one of five permanent Security Council along with the United States, Britain, France and Russia, with the option of vetoing resolutions.

Iran, which denies U.S. accusations of developing nuclear weapons, is engaged in critical talks with the European Union in Paris to avert referral to the Security Council.

The talks, which centre on Iran's uranium enrichment activities, broke off on Friday night without agreement and were expected to continue on Saturday.

The EU wants Iran to freeze uranium enrichment -- which can be used to make fuel for atomic reactors or to make nuclear bombs -- before the next meeting of the IAEA board on Nov. 25.

But Iran says it will only agree to suspend enrichment for six months at most and will never scrap it efforts to produce its own nuclear fuel as the EU and Washington wants.

"The negotiations are complicated and difficult, but both sides are determined to continue the talks. We'll have to see where they will lead," Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the joint news conference with Zhaoxing.

"It is in the interests of both sides that the issue be resolved in a way that Iran retains its legitimate right to use peaceful nuclear technology and others are assured that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons," he said."

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