China says sanctions not key to Iran nuclear issue

19:03, December 24, 2009      

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China on Thursday said the Iran nuclear issue should be solved through dialogue and negotiations.

"We have consistently insisted that the Iran nuclear issue be properly solved through diplomatic negotiations, and we think sanctions cannot solve the root issues," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular news briefing.

Under a draft deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), most of Iran's existing low-grade enriched uranium would be shipped to Russia and France by the end of the year, where it would be processed into fuel rods with the purity of 20 percent.

Iran has rejected the deal, demanding a simultaneous exchange between low and higher level enriched uranium inside the country.

The United States has threatened another round of UN sanctions against Iran if it does not abide by the year-end deadline. But Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday that Iran rejected the December deadline.

The Chinese government supported all parties reaching consensus at an early date on the draft deal initiated by Mohammed El Baradei, former IAEA director-general, said Jiang.

"The urgency is that all parties should step up diplomatic efforts and maintain and advance the process of dialogue and negotiations in a bid to seek the proper solution to the Iran nuclear issue in a comprehensive and long-term way," said Jiang.

Jiang said China, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany held a teleconference Tuesday to discussing the Iran nuclear issue, but she did not give details about the discussions.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons under the guise of civilian nuclear power. Iran has denied the accusation and stressed its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

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