China and Russia speak up for Iran at nuclear meeting - Taipei Times
Thu, May 05, 2005 - Page 7 News List

China and Russia speak up for Iran at nuclear meeting

AFP , UNITED NATIONS AND SEOUL

Iran said it would not abandon nuclear fuel work as a guarantee against fears it might make nuclear weapons as several countries spoke up on Tuesday for the right to peaceful atomic technology, at a UN conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"Iran for its part is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including [uranium] enrichment exclusively for peaceful purposes," Kharazi said.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned on Monday that resumption of enrichment activities by Iran "would lead to a collapse of the talks" with the EU on getting Iran to give guarantees it is not making atom bombs.

Fischer said a breakdown in negotiations would also lead to a push by Europe and the US, which charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, to take Iran before the UN Security Council for possible international sanctions.

The US on Tuesday renewed its call that Iran abandon its uranium enrichment program, which makes fuel for nuclear power reactors but can also be the explosive material for atom bombs.

"There is no reason for them to have an enrichment and reprocessing program," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

But Iran, which Western states say is among the influences undermining the NPT treaty, got some support from Security Council member China on Tuesday.

Chinese delegation head Zhang Yan said China "favors resolving the Iranian nuclear issue within the framework of the IAEA," the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which verifies NPT safeguards.

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Kislyak sounded the same note when he said "current negotiations and consultations" should resolve the Iranian crisis.

China enunciated what is expected to be a key theme at the month-long NPT conference when Zhang said that "the relation between non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be put in correct perspective" so that respect is paid to "the rights of non-nuclear-weapons states to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."

Kharazi said: "No one should be under the illusion that objective guarantees can theoretically or practically amount to cessation or even long-term suspension of legal activity" such as enrichment, which Iran claims is allowed for peaceful purposes under the NPT.

In Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Tuesday that Iran would resume some nuclear activities suspended as part of a deal with the EU, despite the threat of international sanctions.

In related developments, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon yesterday warned that the international community was growing impatient over the stalled process of ending a standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons drive.

Ban said efforts to resolve the standoff through dialogue have entered a "critical phase."

"Recent developments have reached a level that is worthy of considerable concern," he said.

Ban said the international community was watching whether North Korea would carry out a nuclear test.

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