Kong Quan, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Thursday: "We express our concern ... about the recent new development in the Iranian nuclear issue.

"We hope that the Iranian side can do more to help build mutual trust and promote the resumption of talks between Iran and the EU countries.

"We also hope all parties concerned can exercise restraint and seek a solution on the Iranian issue thorugh dialogue. We firmly believe that this is in the interest of all parties concerned."

Iran broke the UN seals at its Natanz nuclear plant on Tuesday to resume research into uranium enrichment, prompting a strong
reaction from Western leaders who fear that Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran says that its programme is for only civilian purposes.
The British, French and German foreign ministers were to discuss a response on Thursday.

The three European Union countries have been seeking a negotiated solution for two years. But Britain and the United States have said that Iran was now likely to be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Kong refused to comment on any potential move to refer Iran to the council.