Thursday, January 26, 2006

Middle East:

China And Iran Warm To Russian Nuclear Proposal
26 January 2006

China and Iran expressed support on Thursday for a Russian proposal to resolve Tehran's standoff with Western governments, which suspect it of secretly planning to build a nuclear bomb. Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, on a one-day trip to Beijing to seek China's support, said the Russian proposal -- that Iran's uranium fuel enrichment take place on Russian soil rather than in Iran -- needed further discussion.
Tehran has previously shown little interest in the idea, intended to ensure it does not covertly divert enriched fuel towards a weapons program. It repeatedly insists it has no plans to build bombs but has the right to enrich uranium fuel on its territory for nuclear power generation. "The Russian suggestion is a useful one, but needs to be discussed further," Larijani told a Beijing news conference. He later told Reuters Iran was willing to show flexibility but rejected the "language of force", an apparent reference to the threat of U.N. sanctions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference earlier that China wanted other countries to consider Moscow's proposal. "We think the Russian proposal is a good attempt to break this stalemate," he said. The Chinese, however, do not appear to support sending Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions. "We oppose impulsively using sanctions or threats of sanctions to solve problems," Kong said. The comments seemed to contradict the message China gave U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who left China on Wednesday after a three-day visit. Zoellick said Washington and Beijing had no major differences on the issue. Kong, the Chinese spokesman, declined to directly endorse that assessment.

Source Reliability: 8.0

**Pictured above: Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani**

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