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China Calls on Iran to Respond 'Seriously' to UN Concerns About Nuclear Program

Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged Iran to "respond seriously" to the United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program. Mr. Hu's comments came in a meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, who says it is not Iran's policy to pursue nuclear weapons - but that could change if Tehran were threatened. Sam Beattie reports for VOA from Beijing.

Iran's top negotiator on the nuclear issue, Ali Larijani, repeated Tehran's assertion that the Iranian program of uranium enrichment is aimed only at producing peacetime energy. He told reporters in Beijing Friday that it was not in Iran's strategic doctrine to seek nuclear weapons.

He said Iran is committed to using nuclear technology under the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. But if Iran is threatened, he said, that situation may change.

Iran has ignored pressure to halt its nuclear program from the United States and the European Union, which fear Tehran's real aim is to develop nuclear weapons.

Last month, the United Nations Security Council - of which China is a member - unanimously passed a resolution banning the trading of nuclear materials and technology with Iran.

According to China's official Xinhua News Agency, President Hu Jintao told Larijani Friday that the resolution reflects "the widespread concern of the international community," and urged Tehran to give it a serious response.

However, Larijiani says Tehran holds Washington alone responsible for the sanctions.

"Of course we know who is really responsible and who is really behind the sanctions, no body else should be blamed for this," he said. "The problems in the whole region of the Middle East are all related to them."

Larijani was on a two-day visit to Beijing looking to shore up bilateral relations, and to gain support in the nuclear dispute.

Iran does have some leverage with China, which depends on Iran for about 12 percent of its oil imports. China needs energy to fuel its soaring economy, and has aggressively pursued oil and gas deals in Iran, among other countries.

President Hu was quoted as saying that attempts to reach a diplomatic solution with Iran must continue.

Larijani said China's vote in the Security Council would have no effect on the Sino-Iranian relationship, which he called "long-term and long-lasting."