TEHRAN, Feb 28 (AFP): A senior Iranian official said Tuesday a Russian plan to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear programme would only be acceptable if Tehran could continue sensitive fuel cycle "research".
The spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hossein Entezami, said Moscow's proposal "must include a guarantee that nuclear fuel will be supplied to Iran, (allows) research activities to continue and recognises Iran's right to conduct industrial scale research."
Russia is proposing to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf-giving it the fuel for a nuclear power but not the technology for a bomb.
The plan is seen as a final effort to avert international sanctions over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme ahead of a key March 6 meeting of the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran said Sunday it agreed "in principle" to Russia's offer.
But Russian officials have sounded a cautious note-saying there were still many issues to be resolved and insisting Iran had to resume a moratorium on uranium enrichment on its own soil.
Meanwhile, China said Tuesday it was willing to play "a constructive role" in a Russian proposal to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf in a bid to help end the nuclear standoff.
"We would like to see (Iranian-Russian) cooperation and we would like to play a constructive role," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular briefing.
China is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council and thus a crucial player in the complex diplomatic maneuverings triggered by suspicions that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reportedly said in Japan Tuesday the Russian offer was "a bridge between Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and restoring the international community's trust in Iran."
But International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday he could not be sure what Tehran's nuclear motives were as it had failed to answer crucial questions.