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Confrontation will not solve Iran nuclear issue: Chinese envoy

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NEW YORK: A Chinese envoy said on Wednesday that confrontation will not solve the Iran nuclear issue, and the only correct solution is to revive the Iranian nuclear deal.

Li Song, China’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the remarks after the agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution earlier that day to pressure Iran on its nuclear issue.

The resolution was proposed by France, Britain and Germany. Among the 35 countries on the board, China and Russia voted against the resolution, while 12 other developing countries, including South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Türkiye, abstained.

“Facts have proved time and again that creating confrontation and exerting pressure will not solve the (Iran nuclear) issue, but will undermine the cooperation between the IAEA and Iran and further complicate the issue,” Li said.

Li noted that the IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi paid a successful visit to Iran in early May and has maintained constructive exchanges with the Iranian side, and both sides have been committed to pushing forward the IAEA’s safeguards work in Iran.

Iran has just observed national mourning following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and is set to hold a presidential election later this month, Li also pointed out. “In this special context, certain countries’ move to provoke confrontation for political purposes is unconstructive for the political settlement of the Iran nuclear issue.”

The Chinese envoy stressed the importance of returning to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The United States, as the JCPOA saboteur, should fully demonstrate its sincerity and work with all parties to restore the complete and effective implementation of the JCPOA, Li said.

China urges all parties to view the current situation in a calm and responsible manner, take concrete actions to support the strengthening of cooperation between IAEA and Iran, and bring the political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iran nuclear issue back to the right track, Li added.

Iran signed the JCPOA with world powers in July 2015, agreeing to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. However, the United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018, reinstating sanctions and prompting Iran to scale back some of its nuclear commitments.

Efforts to revive the JCPOA began in April 2021 in Vienna, but despite multiple rounds of negotiations, no substantial progress has been reported since the last talks in August 2022.