World News

Iran says has nuclear stance similar to China's

BEIJING (Reuters) - Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Friday his country and China had a “basically similar” stance on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

China and Iran also had a consensus on arms control, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear power, Jalili told a news conference in Beijing after meeting Chinese officials.

“On the Iranian nuclear issue, China and Iran have a similar stance,” he said, declining to elaborate on his talks, other than to say that Iran considered China a friend.

Foreign ministers from major powers, including China, are set to meet in Berlin next week to discuss a possible third U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran.

As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China has the power to veto any resolutions.

A U.S. intelligence estimate late last year concluded Iran stopped nuclear warhead development efforts in 2003. But Washington and other Western powers say Iran’s uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities remain dangerous and defy earlier U.N. resolutions.

“The U.S. intelligence report proved that many countries made a mistake on Iran’s nuclear issue,” Jalili said, adding Iran was still open to and welcomed talks.

With a growing dependence on Iranian oil and a general distaste for economic sanctions, China has been reluctant to embrace tougher U.N. measures.

China has urged Iran to abide by U.N. demands to answer questions about its nuclear activities, but has been reluctant to back a U.S. drive for further sanctions against Iran, Beijing’s third-largest supplier of imported crude oil.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jerry Norton