Remarks by Mr. Zhang Yan, Director General of the Arms Control Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Workshop on "Building a Common Approach to the Iran Nuclear Problem"
June 5, China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing
President Wu Jianming,
Dr. Dana Allin,
Distinguished guests and friends,
It gives me a great pleasure to participate in this workshop. Scholars from many world-renowned institutes get together here today to have a brain storming exercise and seek a common approach on the Iranian nuclear issue. It is indeed very timely and useful. I admire the vision of the organizer and wish the workshop a success.
The Iranian nuclear issue is now one of the hottest issues in the world. It has a direct bearing not only on the effectiveness and authority of the international non-proliferation regime, but also on peace and security of the Middle East and on international energy security. Given its nature, complexity and sensitivity, great patience, flexibility, wisdom as well as political will is needed to resolve this issue. It is a time consuming process. One cannot expect to solve the issue overnight.
China, like many other countries, is paying close attention to the situation and working actively with other countries within the framework of E3+3 to search for a solution that is in the interest of the international community.
China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue is consistent and clear-cut, which can be summarized as follows:
Ø China is firmly committed to the maintenance of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. China has clearly stated that it opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Ø China firmly believes that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through political and diplomatic efforts.
Ø China is of the view, while searching for the peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, Iran's rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy must be respected provided that relevant obligations under NPT are observed.
There is a range of options to resolve the issue floating around. Basically, they fall in two categories. One is through dialogue and negotiation and the other is to resort to pressure, sanction or even use of force. China is firmly for the former. The reasons are four folds.
Firstly, it is China's consistent position to settle major international issues or disputes through negotiation and dialogue, which is totally in line with the spirit of the UN Charter.
Secondly, the ultimate goal for addressing the Iranian nuclear issue is to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and international peace and security. The Middle East is already beset with enough problems. Nobody wants to see further turmoil in the region, even less to bear the consequences of another war there. In this region, nothing is more precious than peace. Each and every move by the international community vis-a-vis the Iranian nuclear issue should bear this in mind.
Thirdly, dialogue and negotiation may not provide a quick solution. But it entails less negative effects. More importantly, it brings less harm to the innocent population of the countries concerned.
Fourthly, reality proves that sanction or putting pressure offers no solution to address the issue. On the contrary, it often exacerbates the tension and complicates the situation, and harden the position of the opponents. As a result, it renders the issue more difficult to settle. On Iranian nuclear issue, now we are finding ourselves facing a vicious circle of more Security Council resolutions vs. more Iranian centrifuges.
Of course, we don't totally deny the merits of putting appropriate pressure when situation requires. But in my view, measures like sanctions are only a means rather than an end by itself, and it could not address the root causes of the problem. The purpose of such measures is to facilitate Iran's cooperation with the international community, rather than to corner Iran or to achieve a regime change. When such measures are used, they should be proportionate and commensurate with the situation.
Based on this consistent position, China has spared no efforts in mediating peace and facilitating dialogue. China has played a positive and constructive role in pursuing a peaceful solution of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic efforts.
Bilaterally, we have been working on Iran in the past two years or so to persuade Iran to heed to the appeal of the international community, dispel their concerns over the nature over Iran's nuclear programme, show flexibility, and create conditions for negotiation. We call on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to resolve pending issues in an expedient manner. We also encourage other parties concerned to commit to diplomatic efforts and take into account Iran's legitimate concerns.
Multilaterally, we've taken an active part in the E3+3 mechanism and contributed our due share in keeping solidarity of the six to come up with the Package Deal, aiming at early resumption of negotiation. We also participate, in a constructive manner, the process of UN Security Council's relevant resolutions and make sure actions taken by UN Security Council conducive to the political and diplomatic solution of the Iran's nuclear issue. We faithfully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions and make our utmost efforts to bring this issue back on the negotiation track in line with the Six Countries Foreign Ministers' Joint Statement. We also support the important role of IAEA and Director General ElBaradei in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.
The crux of the Iranian nuclear issue is the deep-rooted distrust and to certain extent long standing hostility between the United States and Iran. The nuclear issue is just a reflection of the nature of their relation.
Therefore, in order to address this problem, there must be a process of confidence building between the two major players. China, on many occasions, has encouraged them to engaging in direct dialogue. In the recent past, the two sides have made direct talks on the Iraq security a reality. It should not be that difficult to take one more step forward. If the two could sit down and talk on nuclear issue, peaceful solution to this issue will have a brighter prospect.
At the same time, a final solution to the Iranian nuclear issue cannot be found without properly addressing Iran's demand for peaceful use of nuclear energy. On this issue, a balance must be stricken between the peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear non-proliferation. We must be creative in searching for such a solution. On the one hand, the risk of nuclear proliferation can be prevented. On the other hand, Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under NPT can be assured.
Currently, the Iranian nuclear issue is once again at a crossroads. There exists two prospects, one is the resumption of negotiation, the other is an escalation of sanction. We must try our best to stop the vicious circle and push forward the negotiated solution through diplomatic efforts. Every cloud has a silver lining. We should work for the better.
I hope my remarks could provide some food for thought in your efforts to find a feasible common approach to the Iranian nuclear issue. If so, you will deserve a Nobel Peace Price.