China, Iran to Discuss Nuclear Compromise
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The U.S. and several West European nations have been pushing for the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. NPR's Anthony Kuhn is in Beijing. And Anthony, where does the Chinese government stand on this dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions?
ANTHONY KUHN: At the same time, it's very interesting to note that United State Deputy Security of State Robert Zellick also held talks with Chinese leaders on Tuesday, and he came out also saying that the U.S. and China were basically in agreement on the issue, and on the core issues of nonproliferation in general. So, it's clear from both of these that China is walking a very fine line, and trying to be fairly neutral on the issue.
MONTAGNE: And what has China indicated that it would do if it does come to a vote in the Security Council?
KUHN: For example, it wants to see the issue resolved peacefully, through the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It also says that it recognizes Iran's right to have civilian nuclear power, and that also, as a nuclear power, Iran has certain rights and obligations which it expects it to fulfill. So, these are points of both sides that China concedes on.
MONTAGNE: What about this Russian proposal to enrich uranium for Iran? What's been the reaction by China?
KUHN: Well, at a press briefing at the Iranian Embassy here in Beijing today, Larijani called this a fruitful proposal, and that basically, they would be interested in any sort of proposal that would be beneficial to their civilian nuclear program. Interestingly, the Chinese said that as well. They said they'd be flexible and open to any sort of thing which would, any sort of proposal that would break the stalemate. Of course, the devil will be in the details, and so we'll see where that proposal goes.
MONTAGNE: And just very briefly, what's going on here, is China seeking to become a dealmaker on the International stage?
KUHN: Well, it can't do that in the same way it can on the North Korea issue, but it knows it has points to win with the U.S. in cooperating on the issue, and with Iran where it has increasing energy interests, now.
MONTAGNE: Anthony, thanks very much. NPR's Anthony Kuhn in Beijing.
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