China opposes sanctions on Iran

Urges int'l community to persist in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution.

Iran Nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran Nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
China on Saturday said that it would oppose any attempt by the international community to impose sanctions on Iran. "That course of action would be futile," China's ambassador to the UN said, urging international powers to continue in their attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the worsening crisis over Iran's nuclear enrichment program. On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that UN Security Council resolutions would not make Iran give up uranium enrichment, and added that "the world would enjoy peace if it were not for US bullying." The president spoke in two northwestern towns shortly before the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report that said Iran had ignored a 30-day deadline from the Security Council to suspend enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for power generators or material for nuclear warheads. The UN agency's report also found Iran had failed to answer questions intended to ascertain whether it was attempting to build nuclear weapons. "After more than three years of agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran's nuclear program, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern," said the report. The findings pave the way for the Security Council to pass a resolution on Iran, although the United States, Britain and France appear to favor much more aggressive wording than fellow veto powers Russia and China. "The Iranian nation won't give a damn about such useless resolutions," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Khorramdareh on Friday. "Those who resort to the language of coercion should know that nuclear energy is a national demand and, by the grace of God, Iran is today a nuclear country," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. The crowd responded with chants of "Down With America!" and "Nuclear energy is our definite right!" The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammed Saeedi, said the IAEA report "does not contain negative points." "It shows that the [IAEA] still has the necessary capacity to investigate Iran's nuclear issue, and the path that some countries have chosen to investigate the issue in another venue [the Security Council] is completely wrong and misleading," Saeedi told Iranian state television in a phone interview from Vienna. Referring to the IAEA's long-standing questions about the extent of Iran's nuclear program, he said: "From our point of view, these few questions are not important. The main questions have been settled." In the United States, President George W. Bush the world was concerned about Iran's "desire to have not only a nuclear weapon but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon." Bush added he was not discouraged by Iran's vow to defy world pressure, saying: "I think the diplomatic options are just beginning." US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said he hoped the Security Council would soon act against Iran. "I think, if anything, the IAEA report shows that Iran has accelerated its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons although, of course, the report doesn't make any conclusions in that regard," Bolton told reporters. Bolton said the Security Council should pass a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for sanctions or military action. Speaking before Bush and Bolton, Ahmadinejad accused the United States and its allies of trying to run the world by force. He did not name America, but his meaning was clear. "A few arrogant powers have deviated from the path of the prophets and service to God and have resorted to aggression and bullying. Humanity does not have peace and security because of their behavior," the Iranian leader told a crowd in the town of Ijrood, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. In Teheran, the former president whom Ahmadinejad defeated in last year's elections, Hashemi Rafsanjani, took a softer line in urging the world to tread cautiously, but made no hint of concessions. "Be careful and think of the consequences of your actions," Rafsanjani said to the world as he gave the Friday prayers' sermon at Teheran University. "I insist that you don't cause trouble for yourselves, us and the region." Hundreds of scientists had worked on Iran's nuclear program for 25 years, "it is not possible to take it away from us," said Rafsanjani, who remains powerful as head of Iran's Expediency Council, which arbitrates between the parliament and the ruling hierarchy. The IAEA report brought swift reactions from other nations concerned with Iran's nuclear development. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the report as "very serious" and said his government would ask the Security Council to "increase the pressure on Iran." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said his government would study the report "very carefully with the aim of agreeing a position and possible future steps to resolve" the Iranian nuclear issue. Russia and China have resisted calls from the Western powers to impose sanction on Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for the world to unite on the issue to make Iran understand the implications of being isolated. "We maintain that the only solution is a diplomatic one," Steinmeier said.