China urges diplomacy on Iran issue
Updated: 2006-02-16 16:49
China urged countries to keep seeking a diplomatic solution to the Iran
nuclear standoff on Thursday, even as the international confrontation over
Iran's nuclear enrichment escalated.
Iran's president Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, visits
the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities some 200 miles (322 km) south of
the Iranian capital Tehran Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006. The unexpected visit
came a day after Tehran confirmed it had resumed small-scale uranium
enrichment at the central Iran plant. [AP]
"We're extremely concerned about the status of the Iranian nuclear issue,"
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.
"It's extremely important for the international community to uphold the
consensus on resolving the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic means and call
on the related parties to maintain calm, restraint and patience."
China repeated its general call for negotiations while the gulf between
Tehran and its Western critics deepened on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Iran was pursuing a
clandestine military nuclear programme. "No civilian nuclear programme can
explain the Iranian nuclear programme. So it is a clandestine Iranian military
nuclear programme," Douste-Blazy told France 2 television.
On Wednesday, the United States threatened sanctions against Tehran for
resuming uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel without resolving suspicions it
secretly wants to build atomic bombs.
Iran resumed small-scale feeding of uranium gas into centrifuge enrichment
machines on Tuesday, officials close to the Vienna-based International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) said. Iran says the nuclear fuel is for peaceful power
needs, not weapons.
Qin, the Chinese spokesman, said Iran had a right to peaceful nuclear power
but urged it to cooperate with the IAEA, which has demanded it suspend
enrichment and cooperate with nuclear inspectors.
"We believe that a member country under the NPT has the right to peaceful use
of nuclear power. At the same time, it should follow the relevant international
rules," Qin said.