11/14/2007, 00.00
IRAN – CHINA
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Beijing offers Iran diplomatic cover (and weapons) for oil barrels

China’s foreign minister and Iran’s president praise Sino-Iranian friendship as their two-way trade reaches US$ 20 billion. Iran today gives the IAEA papers with information on nuclear weapon parts.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that stronger Sino-Iranian ties are good for regional and international peace. Mr Yang, who arrived in Iran yesterday, today met his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a warning against the “enemies of the two nations” Mr Ahmadinejad said that “nothing can distort this friendly relation.”

The Iranian nuclear crisis was discussed in all the talks Mr Yang held in Tehran. The Iranians claim that their nuclear plans are peaceful. The international community suspects that Iran will escalate the nuclear civilian programme into a military one.

China believes that Iran has the right to peacefully use nuclear power and appreciates Iran's repeated statements that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, Yang said.

He said that China hoped in greater co-operation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Union.

In Geneva today the Iranians gave the IAEA papers containing design information which could be used for parts of a nuclear weapon. The IAEA had been asking Iran for the design document since 2005.

The move comes as Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the agency, the IAEA, is finalising his latest report on Iran.

This report could determine if tougher UN sanctions are imposed on Tehran, something that will be determined at a meeting next Saturday between representatives of the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Russia, China and Germany. China however has already said it is against sanctions.

In diplomatic circles China’s opposition is explained by its growing economic ties with Iran.

Since the mid-90s China's trade with the Islamic Republic should soar to around US$ 20 billion this year from just US$ 200 million in the mid-1990s.

China imports 11 per cent of its oil from Iran, which in 2005 amounted to 14 million tonnes.

In addition to diplomatic cover, Beijing has provided Tehran with surface-to-air based on land and ships.

China is also working with Iran on oil exploration and civil engineering projects.

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