China on Thursday maintained it was opposed to bringing new sanctions against Iran, even as the chorus from the West grew louder this week on imposing fresh sanctions against the country over its nuclear programme.

“We believe that sanctions and exerting pressure are not the way to solve problems and are not conducive for the current diplomatic efforts on the Iran nuclear issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters here on Thursday.

China, along with the four other members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, on Wednesday called for a “serious response” from Iran on its nuclear programme. A statement from the six countries said Iran’s nuclear programme remained “a serious concern” and called on the country to co-operate further with the International Atomic Energy Agency to clear up questions on the nature of its programme. Iran maintains its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes.

But support for a fourth round of sanctions has appeared to grow this week. China and Russia have in the past been the loudest voices opposing calls from the United States to impose heavy economic sanctions, but Russia has appeared to have significantly softened its position. President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday while sanctions were “rarely productive”, they were “sometimes inevitable.”

China now remains the only country in the UNSC that has so far not outwardly voiced its willingness to support such a move. The five members of the UNSC and Germany will meet with officials from Iran on October 1 to discuss the country’s nuclear programme. Officials from the six countries last June offered to reduce sanctions if Iran stopped its enrichment programme, but Iran has so far not responded to the offer.

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