China urges more talks on Iran, not sanctions

Updated: 2007-07-04 08:33

UNITED NATIONS - China's UN ambassador said on Tuesday that diplomacy on Iran's nuclear program should run its course before any consideration of additional Security Council sanctions to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

wang guangya
Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guangya in a file photo. [Reuters]
"More importance should be attached to the diplomatic track," Ambassador Wang Guangya told a news conference, adding that he doubted "if it is right moment for the Security Council to take more measures in the sanctions area."

The council has imposed two sets of sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment work, which major Western nations believe is a cover for bomb-making.

Wang said senior foreign ministry officials of the five permanent council members with veto power -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- plus Germany had had telephone conferences but no decision had been made.

Still, the United States has considered tougher sanctions, such as inspection of cargo from Iran for any illicit shipments. And Britain has advocated denying landing and transit rights for Iranian airlines and ships and freezing assets abroad of some Iranian banks, according to documents seen by Reuters.

Iran currently is reviewing a "time out" or pause proposal to stop its enrichment in return for a halt to further UN sanctions. But so far Tehran has refused such a step, arguing that its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes only.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, have reviewed a proposal for a pause but no results were reported.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had earlier proposed a "double suspension" involving a complete end to enrichment and lifting UN sanctions at the same time.

This too has not yielded a positive response from Tehran, but Wang said that the council should take no action, or even draft a resolution imposing more penalties.

"I do believe that now we have to put more emphasis on the diplomatic track," Wang said.

"I think if somebody is thinking of circulating a sanctions resolution at this moment, when Mr. ElBaradei and Mr. Solana are conducting negotiations, is not helpful." he said.

Wang said that Iran had the right to "enjoy the peaceful uses of nuclear technology" but some kind of a "freeze" was necessary because "there are some suspicions of its nature."

The IAEA announced last week it would send inspectors to Tehran shortly to work on a plan aimed at clearing up continuing suspicions about Iran's enrichment activities.

Wang also said it would be helpful if "other parties who have a direct interest in finding a solution on this issue" entered in direct negotiations with Iran, an apparent reference to the United States. The Bush administration has offered talks once Iran suspends enrichment.

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