China Urges West to Give up Force against Iran

A04461992.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- China called for an end to the use of force against Tehran in a move that will further complicate the push for new anti-Iran sanctions.

Days after the US failed to convince the United Nations Security Council permanent members plus Germany to impose further sanctions against Tehran, China urged world powers not to resort to force over Iran’s nuclear program.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in an interview aired Sunday that the international approach to Iran’s nuclear program should focus on negotiations and avoid piling pressure on Tehran.

Wen, in his first interview with the American media in five years, said major powers should pursue peaceful talks with Iran “rather than resort to the willful use of force or the intimidation of force.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Wen told CNN television, “It’s like treating the relationship between two individuals. If one individual tries to corner the other, then the effect will be counterproductive. That will do nothing in helping resolve the problem.

“Our purpose is to resolve the problem, not to escalate tensions.”

China believes Iran “has the right” to develop nuclear energy in a peaceful way under international norms but should not build atomic weapons, the prime minister said.

“Such efforts should be subject to the safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” Wen said, referring to the UN atomic watchdog.

Wen, who was in New York last week to attend the 63rd annual general debate of the UN General Assembly, compared the issue to North Korea’s nuclear program. China is a leader in the six-nation negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear activities.

“Don’t you think that the efforts made by China in resolving the Korean nuclear issue and the position we have adopted in this regard have actually helped the situation on the Korean Peninsula move for the better, day by day?” Wen asked interviewer Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN’s “GPS.”

“It still takes time to see a thorough and a complete solution to the Korean nuclear issue,” Wen said. “But what I would like to stress is that the model that we have adopted, and the efforts we have made, proved to be right in this direction.”

A meeting among major powers at the United Nations to discuss further sanctions against Iran was cancelled last week after Russia opposed the move.

The cancellation appeared to be a retaliatory move by Russia after the United States called for Moscow to be penalized for its five day war with Georgia last month.

China, along with Russia, has often resisted calls for sanctions against Iran, although it had voted in favor previously.

The cancellation of the meeting came after a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency again verified Iran’s non-diversion of declared nuclear material, confirming that Tehran enriches uranium-235 to a level of 3.7 percent, a rate consistent with the construction of a power plant.

The IAEA report also added that the UN agency has failed to discover any “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in Iran.

The US attempt to push for stronger Security Council sanctions was further undermined by the country’s own national intelligence estimate, published in late 2007, which said Iran is not pursuing a weapons program.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties also contradicts reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Diplomats believe that following the said reports, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be “completely irrational”.

Observers believe that Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.

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