CHINA / National

China offers compromise on Iran talks at UN
by Reuters
Updated: 2006-03-18 08:42

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China on Friday offered a compromise on a U.N. statement aimed at reining in Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Russia seems likely to back.

At issue is a provision in the proposed text that would ask the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency to report to the U.N. Security Council on Iran's compliance.

Russia and China have argued the IAEA chief should first report to his 35-nation board, which would diminish the role of the U.N. council.

But China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, told reporters before all 15 council members met on the Iran crisis, the report should be given to "both the IAEA and the Security Council" simultaneously. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Moscow might also accept that language.

Wang said Russia and China still had differences with a draft statement backed by the United States, Britain and France that expresses "serious concern" about Iran's nuclear program and asks the IAEA to report on whether Tehran had complied with its demands. It does not threaten sanctions.

"We need to send a message ... that the Security Council is supporting reinforcing the role of the IAEA, not to replace or take it over from IAEA," Wang said.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry agreed the main responsibility "has always been and should be with the IAEA" and that all concerned would get the report.

"But what the United Kingdom will not accept is that the Security Council should be fettered and that it's consideration of the subject or of a report should depend upon prior discussion in the (IAEA) governing board," Jones Parry said.

The resolution suggests that a report from Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA director general, on Iran's progress be sent to the council within two weeks. But China, Russia and others say this is too short.

"I think at least four weeks to six weeks, this is my feeling," Wang said.

Moscow's U.N. ambassador, Andrei Denisov, told reporters: "The crux of the idea is that the leading agency is the IAEA."
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