Iran said today it will host a nuclear disarmament conference this month to be attended by China, which has been resisting new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions. "This is an international conference and Iran, which advocates nuclear disarmament, is calling on all nations to disarm," Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told the official IRNA news agency. Mr Jalili said "the Chinese have welcomed the initiative ... and will participate" in the April 17-18 conference.
The conference ? called "Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For No-one" ? would come soon after an international nuclear security summit to be held in Washington on April 12-13. Iran has been under mounting global pressure to abandon its nuclear programme, with western powers fearing it wants to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says the programme is peaceful and only meant to produce energy. It has already been slapped with three sets of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the spectre of more lingers spearheaded by Washington and some western nations.
China, one of the five veto-wielding Security Council members, has stiffly resisted any fresh sanctions against Iran. Today, Mr Jalili said Iran was still ready to talk with world powers over its own package of proposals to resolve issues including disarmament discussed in Geneva last year. "We said before we are ready to talk on issues which can help world peace, stability and security." Mr Jalili said.
"It is better for the countries who left these negotiations to return to it and continue the dialogue. These negotiations clearly can furnish the ground for world co-operation to address common concerns." Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said meanwhile the title of the conference indicated Iran's "seriousness in utilising nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and we consider it to be the right of all nations."
"But using nuclear arms should not be allowed by any nation and that the world should be without such weapons," adding a list of other countries planning to attend would be announced later. Since the Geneva talks on October 1, talks between Iran and the 5-plus-1 group ? the permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany ? have focused specifically on a nuclear fuel deal.