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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Urged by China on Checks

BEIJING -- China urged Iran on Tuesday to cooperate more with the United Nations' atomic inspector, raising rhetorical pressure on Tehran to heed international calls to curtail uranium enrichment and return to talks.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing repeated his country's long-standing position that the deepening dispute over Iran's nuclear program should be defused through diplomacy.

But Li also spelled out that Iran should do more to address concerns about its nuclear activities, which Western powers say are focused on nurturing the ability to develop a nuclear arsenal.

"We staunchly defend the nonproliferation regime," Li told a news conference held as part of China's annual parliamentary session.

"We welcome and support and also call on Iran to strengthen cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. We've also stated that we hope Iran will treasure its channels for negotiation with the European Union countries and Russia."

The Agency is in charge of monitoring and enforcing member states' adherence to international nuclear safeguards.

China is facing pressure from Washington and Western Europe to back a stronger UN Security Council resolution against Iran after it ignored a Feb. 21 deadline under an earlier resolution urging it to stop uranium enrichment.

But Li held back from clear commitments, repeating Beijing's position that confrontation can be averted through negotiation.

"We hope all international efforts will be conducive to the early resumption of diplomatic negotiation to resolve the Iran nuclear issue," Li said. "Any actions taken by the UN should be conducive to the promotion of regional stability."

Iran rejects claims that it is trying to master nuclear bomb technology under the cover of a civilian atomic energy program, saying it only wants to generate electricity.