China, Russia hope for negotiations with Iran as US threatens sanctions
Following Iran's response to the United Nation's Security Council package presented to it, both China and Russia on Wednesday expressed their willingness to pursue negotiations with Iranian diplomats regarding the nation's controversial nuclear program.
Iran had delivered a written response on Tuesday to the UN proposal, saying that it was unwilling to cease work on its uranium enrichment program, but that it was prepared to negotiate on the matter.
The package, put forth by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, offers Iran incentives if it ceases to work on its nuclear program, while implying possible UN action against it if it does not.
China, a major trade partner of Iran's, has opposed the use of force against Iran.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that it was closely studying Iran's statement, and that, "China has always believed that seeking a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic talks is the best choice and in the interests of all parties concerned," according to the AP.
It added that it hoped Tehran would "consider the concerns of the international community and come up with necessary and constructive measures".
Russia on Wednesday also expressed it willingness to pursue contacts with all sides to achieve a negotiated settlement, reported Reuters.
"Russia will continue with the idea of seeking a political, negotiated settlement concerning Iran's nuclear program," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin told Interfax, according to Reuters, while "maintaining the role of the IAEA and rejecting dilution of the principles of non-proliferation."
The United States, however, vowed to press ahead with efforts to impose economic sanctions against Iran, according to the Washington Post, if it did not meet the UN deadline to freeze its nuclear program on August 31.
"Iran's response today is clearly a 'no' for Washington," said nuclear expert George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"But it's hard to see how the U.S. can mobilize others to stop the Iranian program at this point when the last thing anyone wants is more conflict," he added.