Iran Nuclear NewsChina urges 2-track approach on Iran

China urges 2-track approach on Iran

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AP: China wants a two-track approach in trying to resolve the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program — a revitalized diplomatic initiative along with a new U.N. resolution on sanctions, Beijing’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday, The Associated Press

By EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — China wants a two-track approach in trying to resolve the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program — a revitalized diplomatic initiative along with a new U.N. resolution on sanctions, Beijing’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday,

Ambassador Wang Guangya indicated China still opposes tough sanctions, saying differences remain over the definition of an “incremental” increase in punishment. He reiterated that he doesn’t expect the Security Council to take up a third sanctions resolution until after New Year’s Day.

The United States and key European nations — France, Britain and Germany — want tough new measures against Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as the council has demanded. Russia and China oppose strong sanctions, urging a focus on further diplomacy.

Wang made clear to reporters that the new U.S. intelligence finding that Iran halted development of a nuclear bomb four years ago had changed China’s views on a new sanction resolution.

Political directors from the five permanent Security Council nations and Germany, who have been trying to negotiate with Iran, held a 90-minute telephone discussion that highlighted the divide among the key players.

Calling it “a good discussion,” Wang said that “there are still some differences over the elements of the draft” resolution.

“And, of course, taking into account the new situation, some members among the six propose that there should be two tracks: the Security Council resolution and also the six should think about, as a strategic plan, what to do next for a diplomatic solution,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad stressed that despite the new intelligence assessment, the United States still views Iran’s nuclear program as dangerous because of Tehran’s refusal to suspend enrichment, which can produce material to make atomic bombs.

British Ambassador John Sauers told reporters Wednesday that it wasn’t likely the issue would be discussed until early in 2008, and Wang said the political directors agreed to either meet or talk by telephone “after the new year.”

But Khalilzad said there was a proposal for a new discussion among the political directors in the coming days and the possibility of higher level talks at a donors conference for Palestinians in Paris on Monday.

Wang said he believed all six countries “want to see a resolution, but, of course, they have to decide what incremental means.”

“You have to add something to the two previous resolutions, but what to be added to the new text, and also taking into account how they can revitalize this diplomatic initiative, the talks,” he said.

U.S. officials in Washington said Monday that a preliminary sanctions plan drafted by France would punish the Quds Force, part of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, for exporting banned weapons, and Bank Melli, one of Iran’s largest banks, which the United States included in its own sweeping sanctions program in October.

But U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private, said that China opposes any sanctions affecting trade with Iran and that Russia opposes sanctions on any Iranian banks.

The six countries offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June 2006 if it agreed to freeze uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program. But Iran has refused and defied two council resolutions demanding suspension.

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