China defends nuclear cooperation with Iran
Iran is under pressure to dismantle its nuclear programme, which western powers say is aimed at producing weapons.india Updated: May 23, 2006 16:58 IST
China on Tuesday defended its nuclear cooperation with Iran following a BBC report that traced Tehran's newly announced ability to enrich uranium to Chinese assistance.
Beijing abided by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in collaborating with Iran on "peacefully using nuclear technology" and reported their dealings to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.
Iran is under pressure to dismantle its nuclear programme, which western powers say is aimed at producing weapons. Tehran says it only wants to produce electric power.
The BBC report last week quoted western diplomats as saying Iran may have used a small amount of material sold by China in 1991 for the uranium enrichment process.
The diplomats said that indicated the programme may not be as advanced as it appears. The report also cited the diplomats as saying China's decision to inform the IAEA of the uranium sale might have helped to reveal the full extent of Iran's nuclear programme.
"Since 1992 China has been a party to the NPT and we have been honoring our commitments," Liu said at a news briefing. "We have reported our cooperation with Iran to the IAEA."
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed during talks that Iran must not have nuclear weapons or proliferate weapons of mass destruction.
Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, plan on Wednesday to approve a final version of a proposal to lessen UN pressure on Iran if Tehran agrees to stop enriching uranium.
The proposal would threaten sanctions -- and possibly the use of force -- if Iran refuses to comply.