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Beijing tells Iran to talk

2010-06-02 07:39

Beijing - China said on Tuesday that it appreciates the efforts made by the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding the Iranian nuclear issue and hopes the Islamic republic will step up cooperation with the IAEA to find a peaceful solution.

"We have always considered dialogue and negotiation as fundamental solutions, because they benefit all parties," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.

The latest nine-page IAEA report, already released to the UN Security Council and the agency's 35-nation board, said it remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear activities, including development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

The report also said Teheran has increased its nuclear enrichment centrifuges from one set in February to two sets, with 164 more such machines that are not yet operational, to refine uranium.

In response to the IAEA's new findings, Iran said it is surprised that the watchdog did not mention the new nuclear three-way deal.

"We expected that this important historical event as it's 100 percent related to the IAEA activities, should have been reported here the continuation of this trend is seriously damaging the IAEA," Iran's ambassador to the agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted by the Press TV as saying.

The deal, reached in May, said Teheran would send 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for 120 kg of higher enriched uranium for medical research purposes. However the IAEA says that with Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile having grown to 2,400 kg, the country would still possess enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

One day after the deal was announced, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, the US, Britain and France - as well as Germany, had agreed on the draft of a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.

"China's consistent duel-track strategy allows it to talk with the US about new sanctions but at the same time call for more peaceful international cooperation," said Gong Shaopeng, a professor of international politics at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. Gong said one of the flaws of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal is that it did not clearly state the degree of transparency of the deal or mention whether the IAEA should watch the process at all.

In the meantime, Russia still seems to be carefully choosing between new sanctions or a new deal.

"A lot will depend on how Iran will approach its commitments (to the swap deal). If it strictly abides by them, Russia will actively support the scheme proposed by Brazil and Turkey," Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last Tuesday. "We welcome this deal. If fully implemented, it will create very important preconditions for improving the atmosphere for the renewal of negotiations."

But he gave no indication of how the deal might affect Russia's stance on new sanctions. The remarks were made one day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Moscow to support the deal.

"For Russia to agree with new sanctions it must make sure that its own interests will not be harmed, while Teheran doesn't want to see Moscow partner up with Washington because it still needs Russian arms for self-protection," Gong said.

Al-Jazeera reported last week the Iran-Brazil-Turkey move not only "exposed the intransigence" of the Obama administration, but also showed the countries to be in tune with world opinion, providing "a better way of doing business with each other in a new age of connectivity".

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that new sanctions won't bring an end to Iran's nuclear program - which Iran argues is for energy use but the West thinks is for making nuclear bombs - because "they have done their own planning and have their own counter-sanction strategy".

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