China backs Russia on Iran's nuclear program
Russia says more sanction will not topple Iran regime; China Foreign Ministry says 'dialogue and cooperation' needed to resolve dispute, imposing pressure, sanctions 'cannot fundamentally resolve' issue.
China's Foreign Ministry joined Russia Thursday in warning Western countries that additional pressure on Iran would not solve the nuclear stand-off.
Beijing reacted to a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which said this week that there are many concrete indications that Iran worked towards developing a nuclear weapon.
Several Western powers including France have raised the possibility of new sanctions, should Iran not start answering the IAEA's questions on this topic.
"We, as always, believe that dialogue and cooperation are the only effective approaches for properly resolving the Iran nuclear issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
"Imposing pressure and sanctions cannot fundamentally resolve the issue," he added.
The last round of talks between Iran and the grouping of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China ended without result in January.
A senior Western official said Thursday in Vienna that diplomatic efforts were underway to show a united front among these six powers at a meeting of the IAEA governing board next week.
"Our goal is to do everything we can to narrow our differences there," he said. "It will be tough."
The official said that new punitive measures should be discussed only after the IAEA meeting, and after gauging Iran's reaction to the new report.
Russian Vice Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov warned Wednesday that additional sanctions would amount to an attempt at toppling Iran's regime.
So far, the UN Security Council has passed four sets of sanctions against Tehran but has stopped short of targeting the country's oil sector, which is a key revenue source for the Islamic leadership.