Friday, May 13, 2005

Straw Urges Iran Nuclear Rethink

BBC News:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has urged Iran to "think again" about plans to resume uranium enrichment activities. Iran's plans could prompt an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency or the Security Council, he told Radio 4's World At One. READ MORE

Other European diplomats have warned of negative consequences for Iran. Iran says it agreed to suspend its activities only on a short-term basis and on the assumption that talks with European negotiators progressed well.

Mr Straw said resuming nuclear activity was a "far from good idea" for Iran.

He said it would put numerous benefits already secured for the country at risk.

But he added that there was no "conclusive evidence" of what Iran was doing.

"They say they are not (restarting enrichment activities). The problem is that what is incontrovertible is that there is a 20-year history of them failing to disclose aspects of their activities."

If Iran did lift suspension of uranium enrichment activities then the UK would seek to convene an emergency meeting of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) said Mr Straw.

"And/or we could end up in the Security Council," he said.

"We don't want to do either of those, but it was Iran who decided to go down this track."

Other European diplomats have warned Iran the "consequences" would be "negative" if it Iran resumed its uranium enrichment - that is taken to mean action by the security council.

Earlier Tony Blair said at his monthly press conference that the UK would support referral to the UN Security Council if Iran breaches its undertakings and obligations.

"Quite how that will come about we have got to work out with our colleagues and allies," he said.

"But those international rules are there for a reason and they have to be adhered to."

In Tehran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, said that Iran would "resume part of its nuclear activities in the near future", but that "the conditions and timing" of the move were still being discussed with European negotiators from France, Germany and Britain.



The World At One Radio 4 Date & time Thursday 12th May 2005

Subject / interviewee Iran - Jack Straw

Nick Clarke: Well the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been listening and he joins us now. Do you take the threat by Iran to break its agreement with you seriously?

Jack Straw: We do take it seriously. (Indistinct) now at this sort of(indistinct) very close to the twelfth hour but we hope very much that they do appreciate that this is a, a far from good idea for themselves as well as for the international community and they think again about this proposal by them to (indistinct) to reintroduce part of the (indistinct) activities which they suspended (indistinct) in November last year but also they've had suspended effectively for the best part of two years.

And, it is, they claim that we have broken the November Agreement, the Paris Agreement. That is completely incorrect. We have not. We have been negotiating on the basis of that agreement and one very good product for them of that Paris Agreement is that we have got the United States to agree not to stand in the way of their application for membership of the World Trade Organization which could bring great benefits for the Iranian economy. And we have secured again US co-operation for lifting embargoes and sanctions for example on things like material related to air transport safety and plenty of other things ...

NC: So in fact if, if they go ahead with this threat then, you think, you say those will be lost will you to Iran ... JS: Oh those (indistinct) ... NC: ... will they? JS: ... those unquestionably will be lost because they were part of the negotiations taking place in the context in which Iran had agreed as a clear but categorical confidence building measure to maintain its suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities but ...

NC: They, they say in return that if you proceed with any of these threats, if they're referred to the Security Council that could undermine what they call their commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty and that's a pretty serious threat isn't it, if they say treat us like this and we will simply ignore our commitment?

JS: Yeah but the, the problem here is that their commitment is brought into question in any event and has been, indeed it's, it's that commitment which has been behind the whole negotiations and the decisions by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board over a two year period and has been fundamental to our negotiations with Iran.

What we've had to (indistinct), we, we don't want this situation, it's the last thing we want. We want these negotiations to produce a satisfactory conclusion where Iran as its, is its right under the Non Proliferation Treaty is able to run its nuclear energy power programme but is not able to produce material which, given its previous record of non disclosure, has raised very strong suspicions that it could be used for a nuclear weapons(indistinct) ...

NC: Is that what they're up to you think I mean essentially ... JS: (Indistinct) ... NC: ... most of America seems to think that's exactly what they want to do... JS: Well ... NC: ... and in fullness of time that's what they will do? JS: That, that, there, there is no conclusive evidence that that is what up to. They say they are not. The problem is that what, what is incontrovertible is that there was a twenty year history of them failing to disclose aspects of their activities under which they were, in respect of which they're under a very clear obligation to disclose them to the IAEA Board. And that was why they agreed to take part in these negotiations.

Now, just to make this clear. If they do lift the suspension of uranium enrichment activities then we will certainly seek to convene a, an emergency meeting of the Board of the IAEA ...

NC: Which could well end up in the Security Council. JS: And/or we could end up in the Security Council. We don't want to do either of those but it was Iran who decided to go down this track(indistinct) ...

NC: No indeed, indeed so, but you, and (indistinct) you're the one, you've been there, you've talked to them, do you believe them? I mean they say that their, all their aims and ambitions are innocent, do you believe them, should we believe them?

JS: (Indistinct) well it's a complicated situation, is, is, is, I mean I,do, do I trust the people I'm talking to across the table? Yes. Do I, are all the people I, I meet across the table the people actually in power in Iran? No. So it's a complicated situation.

I mean there's also a, a big issue which was raised by your previous interviewee Gary Samore, about whether in any event they're, they are simply trying to maintain their options so that if they could at a later stage move quickly to develop a nuclear weapon, having built up the necessary(indistinct) as it were components of that. But if it is the case that they are sincere in saying that they (indistinct) want nothing whatever to do with a nuclear weapons programme then the way of convincing the international community of that is by the route which we have offered them, which allows them fully to maintain their nuclear power programme but with fuel, in this case from Russia, but without any suspicions about any(indistinct) nuclear weapons programme and we still urge them to take that line.

NC: Jack Straw thank you very much for speaking to us.