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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's top nuclear negotiator arrives in China

RIA Novosti

17/01/2008 13:19 TEHRAN, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator arrived in Beijing on Thursday as his country seeks to persuade China to resist new UN sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

During his two-day visit, Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other high-ranking officials to discuss bilateral relations and the Iranian nuclear issue.

"Certain countries have used various pretexts and made groundless accusations in a drive to transfer Iran's 'nuclear case' to the UN Security Council. But today the inconsistency of their accusations has become clear from their own reports," Jalili said in an interview with Iranian television on arriving in the Chinese capital.

A U.S. intelligence report on Iran's nuclear program in December 2007 concluded that it had only peaceful goals, and that Tehran had halted weapons production in 2003.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) contradicted a previous intelligence assessment in 2005 which stated Iran was actively pursuing the creation of an atomic bomb.

Jalili confirmed Tehran's readiness to continue cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and to and honor its international commitments.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists on Thursday that that country has urged the international community to find a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear problem.

"China's position on the Iranian problem remains unchanged: We urge the international community to invigorate diplomatic action to resolve it," Jiang Yu said.

Jalili's visit to Beijing comes days before a planned meeting of foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany in Berlin next Tuesday to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran.

Two sets of UN Security Council sanctions are currently in place against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used in both electricity generation and weapons production. A further round of more stringent sanctions has so far been blocked by China and Russia.

Iran insists that it needs nuclear energy for electricity generation and not for weapons production, and has pledged to clear up all remaining questions over its nuclear program by late February.

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