Iran expects Russian, Chinese support in nuclear crisis
TEHRAN, July 16 (AFP) Jul 16, 2006
Iran said Sunday that it was still counting on support from Russia and China over its disputed nuclear programme, and warned the referral of the issue back to the UN Security Council would derail any possible negotiations.
"If the case goes to the United Nations Security Council, regardless of the kind of resolution adopted, the negotiations will be derailed," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
"The Security Council path is not constructive," he added.
"We expect Russia and China to defend our legitimate stances. Defending the rights of the Islamic republic means backing up international treaties and the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Asefi said Iran was also awaiting the outcome of a G8 summit in Russia, where the mounting nuclear crisis is set to be discussed.
"We hope the G8 chooses the reasonable path. In this case, the Islamic republic is ready for any cooperation and negotiation," he said.
Last week Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States decided to send Iran's case back to the Security Council after Tehran failed to respond to demands it freeze sensitive uranium enrichment work.
Iran says it wants to enrich uranium only to make reactor fuel and that this is a right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the process can be extended to make weapons.
Western powers believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb under the cover of a peaceful atomic energy programme.
The so-called 5+1 powers had offered Iran trade, technology, diplomatic and other incentives as well as multilateral talks -- also involving the United States -- if the country agrees to freeze enrichment.
Diplomats say the Council could vote as early as next week on a draft resolution that would make a freeze legally binding.
"The package is a good basis for talks, but of course we are not in the position to affirmatively or negatively respond to the package," Asefi said of the offer.
The proposal, however, is conditional on Iran first suspending enrichment and cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran has repeatedly rejected any "preconditions" to talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meanwhile said he thought "Iran's leaders will respond to the offers that remain on the table and on this basis we will be able to start concrete negotiations soon".
"Iran was given constructive offers. We still haven't received an answer from the Iranian side about their readiness for negotiations," Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg.
He said the Security Council would start work "very soon" on a resolution that would require Iran to freeze enrichment work.
"In this situation, we expect the UN Security Council to start work very soon on the resolution," he added.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.