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Report: China assures Israel it will not aid Iran nuke program

August 25, 1997 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that China has assured him it will not supply Iran with nuclear reactor technology, aid that could help Tehran construct atomic weapons.

Netanyahu, on a tour of Asian nations, told Army Radio that the subject of Iran ``came up in conversation″ with Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Li Lanqing, whom he met in Beijing on Sunday.

``I insisted that it was dangerous for Iran to be armed with atomic weapons and of course ballistic missiles,″ Netanyahu said. ``I asked for China to use its influence to impede Iran’s plans.″

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He said that in response he was told that ``China ... has taken an important decision not to sell building material for an atomic reactor. We welcome the decision as an important one.″

The United States and Israel believe Iran is close to developing atomic weapons and oppose the sale of nuclear technology to Tehran even if it is ostensibly for civilian purposes.

Last month, the CIA said China has become the world’s biggest supplier of missile, nuclear and chemical weapon technology to countries such as Iran.

From Beijing, Netanyahu traveled to Tokyo and plans to visit Seoul, South Korea. In a radio broadcast, Netanyahu emphasized that the Asian tour was aimed at promoting economic ties.

``Israeli know-how is more valuable than Arab oil,″ he said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 TV reported late Sunday that the Israeli government is angry over Russia’s alleged plans to sell missile technology to Iran. No further information was available.