China Foreign Ministry: Confrontational moves at IAEA undermine Iran cooperation with agency

China Foreign Ministry: Confrontational moves at IAEA undermine Iran cooperation with agency

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned against undermining the existing cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through “confrontational moves” against the Islamic Republic during the upcoming meeting of the Agency’s Board of Governors.

The ministry’s spokesman, Zhao Lijian, made the remarks on Thursday in reaction to reports that the US, the UK, France and Germany have prepared a draft resolution, pushing the Board of Governors “to rebuke” Iran in its June 6 meeting.

“China opposes relevant countries’ moves to pressure Iran by pushing the IAEA Board of Governors to adopt a resolution,” he said.

Lijian added that exerting more pressure on Iran “cannot solve any problems,” and “will only escalate tension and complicate the situation.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that the negotiations in the Austrian capital city of Vienna on the revival of the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are now at a critical juncture.

Therefore, he added, “confrontational moves at the IAEA Board of Governors will only undermine cooperation between Iran and the agency and disrupt the negotiation process.”

The forthcoming meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors comes as a pause in the negotiations to revive the deal enters its third month, with prospects described by Washington as “tenuous at best.” Iran blames the US and its three European allies – France, Britain, and Germany – for failing to act constructively.

Under the deal, Iran accepted certain caps on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of international sanctions. The US unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions despite Tehran’s full compliance with its share of obligations.

“We believe that the pressing task at the moment is to facilitate a smooth conclusion of the negotiations and bring the JCPOA back to the right track,” the Chinese diplomat said elsewhere in his remarks.

Lijian also advised the United States to “make political decisions as soon as possible,” and “actively respond to Iran’s legitimate concerns and work toward an early consensus on outstanding issues.”

“All relevant parties should create necessary conditions and a favorable environment for this,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned against any political interference in the technical affairs of the IAEA, describing such interference as “unconstructive.”

Speaking during a phone call with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, Amir-Abdollahian said an end should be put to the creation of “artificial and unconstructive circumstances” during the forthcoming meeting of IAEA’s Board of Governors.

“The process of technical cooperation between the Agency and the Atomic Energy Organization [of Iran] and the frequent emphasis put on the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program by the Agency cannot be reversed all of a sudden and through a hasty political statement,” he added.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that Iran will respond strongly to any “unconstructive move” at the Board of Governors’ meeting.

Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful and it will “naturally respond strongly and appropriately to any unconstructive move” at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting.

“Those who regard the Board of Governors and the director general’s report as leverage and tools of political games against Iran are responsible for the consequences,” he said.