China fends off sanctions talk against Iran
BEIJING, Apr 29 (Reuters) China faces rising Western pressure to back UN action against Iran but insists sanctions are not the way to defuse the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear activities.
Yesterday, the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, officially reported that Iran had failed to heed calls to stop enriching uranium, which can produce material for power plants or nuclear weapons.
The United States and Britain said they would press next week for a United Nations resolution ordering, not just asking, Iran to halt enrichment, opening the way to possible sanctions against Tehran.
But China demurred, calling for more talks.
''Under current circumstances, considering sanctions and military measures is not conducive to resolving this problem,'' China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, told the official Xinhua News Agency in New York yesterday. Xinhua reported his remarks today.
Wang said the international community and members of the UN Security Council needed to consult on ''establishing a better means to defuse the current crisis''. He objected to setting a deadline for any action, Xinhua said.
China, like the United States, Britain, France and Russia, is a permanent Council member empowered to veto resolutions.
Western diplomats have said Beijing and Moscow are unlikely to scuttle a resolution telling Iran to end uranium enrichment, but they may block any eventual sanctions.
REUTERS SRS BST 0808