Iran says China not close to backing sanctions

By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (BestGrowthStock) – Iran’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it did not believe China was close to approving new U.N. sanctions which the United States wants as a stick to pressure Tehran into curbing its nuclear programme.

U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao met on Monday at a nuclear security summit in Washington where, according to a U.S. official, Hu said his government would help craft a new Security Council resolution on Iran.

A Chinese spokesman said Hu had told Obama that China shared the goal of reining in Iran’s nuclear program, but stopped short of saying he explicitly backed new sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday: “We do not believe these comments confirm American ones or that it means (China) cooperating with them in any kind of unjust action (against Iran).”

The West fears Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons but Iran says its nuclear work is entirely peaceful.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said sanctions would have a limited impact on its nuclear progress.

“Of course sanctions will affect us. But it will only delay our projects. It will not stop our projects,” Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview published on the website of CBS News. “Then we will have to come up with our own manufacturing systems.”

Mehmanparast warned countries that impose sanctions on the world’s fifth largest oil exporter that they would themselves suffer economically.

“Any country that helps (the West) in this regard will deprive itself — to the same extent that it helps — of the interests which it could enjoy by having ties with Iran,” he said.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing supported a “dual-track strategy” toward Iran, implying sanctions were a possibility but stressing the importance of negotiations to resolve the nuclear standoff.

HARASSMENT

Salehi said IAEA concerns that Iran could possibly be working on a nuclear-armed warhead, as voiced in the agency’s latest report two months ago, were “baseless.”

“They cannot just come up with … any kind of baseless statement,” he said. When asked if the agency was therefore engaged in “baseless harassment,” Salehi replied, “Yes.”

“In fact, the agency has no nuclear issue with us,” he said.

The IAEA has said it will be unable to judge whether Iran’s nuclear activity is for wholly peaceful purposes until Tehran grants unfettered access to agency inspectors and investigators.

Iran has said it wants to build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in the long term. “We will probably start (construction on) another site this year,” Salehi said.

It would be two years before Iran installed centrifuges at Fordow, the underground, nascent uranium enrichment site which it revealed last September, he added.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who sees the heavily nuclear-armed United States as the greatest threat to global security, said Obama’s summit on preventing nuclear terrorism was “intended to humiliate human beings.” [ID:nLDE63B1YA]

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(Additional reporting by Hossein Jaseb and by Sylvia Westall in Vienna; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Robert Woodward)

Iran says China not close to backing sanctions