Saturday, March 25, 2006

Iran supports Russian, Chinese line on nuclear dispute

Yahoo News:

Sat Mar 25, 2:27 AM ET

Iran supports the stance taken by Russia and China to take the diplomatic route in the search for an international solution to the thorny nuclear issue, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said.

Mottaki made his comments during three-way telephone talks with his Russian and Chinese counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Li Zhaoxing, the semi-official Iran agency reported.

Iran "supports and is happy with the position (of Russia and China) in favour of pursuing negotiations in a bid to find a solution acceptable to all parties and examination of the (nuclear) question under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency" (IAEA), Irna quoted Mottaki as saying.

The UN Security Council has attempted in vain to agree on a deadline for Tehran to comply with IAEA demands to abandon all activities linked to the enrichment of uranium.

Russia, backed by China, insists on the Security Council playing a supporting role to the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, and rejects any deadline which appears like an ultimatum linked to possible sanctions.

Lavrov said Friday that Moscow could not accept any decision on Iran reached by Western powers without prior consultation with Russia.

"I doubt we would accept (a proposal) taken behind our back and then presented to us as the only outcome possible," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

He was commenting on reports earlier this week that Britain had been carrying out secret negotiations with other Western capitals.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday also telephoned Lavrov in a new attempt to break the deadlock over Iran's nuclear program.

Rice told a news conference that she and Lavrov agreed to step up work on a statement aimed at forcing Tehran to renounce any ambitions to develop atomic bombs.

The call came a day after Rice expressed impatience over the slow pace of UN talks on the issue and warned "there can't be any stalling" in dealing with the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Diplomatic sources in Berlin said Rice would travel next week to key European allies Germany, France and Britain to discuss the issue.

The United States and its allies believe Iran's civilian nuclear program hides an effort to develop weapons. Tehran says its research is peaceful.

Russia has repeatedly said the Iran nuclear crisis should be resolved within the IAEA, effectively ruling out sanctions against Tehran.

Russia has previously proposed a compromise under which Iran would enrich uranium on Russian, not Iranian, soil. Tehran has rejected that plan.

Mottaki denounced "certain Security Council member nations who are in the minority and who are pursuing political objectives and are seeking confrontation".

He added that the return of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the IAEA by the Security Council would permit random inspections of Iranian nuclear sites.


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