China welcomes Iran nuclear fuel swap deal

Nov 30, -0001
BEIJING: China has welcomed a nuclear fuel swap plan Iran announced after talks with Brazil and Turkey, urging negotiations over the deepening dispute even as Western powers condemned the new deal as too limited.

Iran agreed with Brazil and Turkey on Monday to send some of its uranium abroad, reviving a fuel swap plan drafted by the United Nations with the aim of keeping Tehran's nuclear activities in check.

But Iran made clear it had no intention of suspending domestic enrichment the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Western powers have already said the offer will not be enough to ease their worries about Iran. But Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi suggested his government was encouraged by the proposal and favours further negotiations.

"China has noted the relevant reports and expresses its welcome and appreciation for the diplomatic efforts all parties have made to positively seek an appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," the Foreign Ministry website quoted him saying (

"China has consistently advocated safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation system. At the same time, China considers we should resolve the Iran nuclear issue through the channels of dialogue and negotiations."

China is among the world powers that have been discussing possible new U.N. sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear activities. As one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, it has the power to veto resolutions.

Yang's published comments did not touch on whether China believes the nuclear fuel swap proposal means those sanctions discussions should be delayed, and a Foreign Ministry spokesman also sidestepped a direct question.

But both stressed that Beijing prefers a negotiated solution to the dispute.

Iran is a major supplier of crude to China, the world's second-biggest consumer of oil after the United States, providing over ten percent of imports last year.

Dominated by energy shipments, bilateral trade has grown from around $10 billion in 2005 to over $20 billion last year.

China has kept close bilateral ties with Iran and is reluctant about moving towards new sanctions, but its support is not unreserved. It has backed past U.N. Security Council resolutions criticising Tehran's stance on nuclear issues. AGENCIES







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