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China Applauds Russian-Iranian Uranium Proposal

26 January 2006 -- China says it supports a Russian proposal to allow Iran to enrich its uranium in Russia, and that it opposes any arbitrary sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said today that the proposal to enrich uranium in Russia could help resolve the current impasse.

"We think [the Russian proposal] is a good suggestion to break up the stalemate, and it needs efforts to be made by all parties," Kong said. "The Chinese government also makes the appeal for this issue to be resolved through peaceful talks. So, under the guideline of this principle, we will support all diplomatic ways to solve the Iranian nuclear issue."

His remarks came as Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani, met with Chinese officials in Beijing to discuss Iran's hotly disputed nuclear program.

Iran is trying to prevent the United States and some European states from bringing it before the UN Security Council, which can impose a range of sanctions or other measures over its alleged weapons program. The United States and Britain have accused Tehran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has criticized Iran for failing to meet disclosure requirements under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

China, one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, can block any punitive action against Tehran.

Earlier this week, Larijani met with Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov in Moscow and was positive about the Russian proposal to allow Tehran to enrich its uranium in Russia. Russia could also block Security Council action against Iran.