Saturday, September 17, 2005

UK attacks Iran nuclear stance

BBC News:
The UK government has described as "unhelpful" a speech by the Iranian president in which he asserted Iran's right to produce nuclear energy.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the UN his country had an "inalienable right" to produce nuclear energy - but said Islam precluded Iran having atomic weapons.

The US and the EU want Iran to give up any idea of enrichment capability.

The Foreign Office said nothing in the speech suggested Iran wanted to abide by an agreement it had previously made.

But it said it was a difficult issue and "the only way to resolve it is diplomatically".

Iran recently resumed uranium processing, an activity that had been suspended since November 2004 while talks were held with three European countries - the UK, France and Germany - about its long-term nuclear plans.

IAEA consultation

Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran's program was entirely legal and attacked what he called a "nuclear apartheid" that permits some countries to enrich fuel, but not others.

The Foreign Office spokesman said: "This was an unhelpful speech on which we will now want to consult our partners on the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors.READ MORE

"We and our colleagues in France and Germany along with [EU foreign policy chief] Javier Solana have worked very hard for two years to resolve this difficult issue.

"The only way to resolve it is diplomatically.

"But the Iranian President has offered nothing in this speech to suggest that he wants to abide by the agreement Iran has made."

Sanctions possible

The French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said referring Iran to the UN security council for possible sanctions was still an option.

But BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said it was "not so certain" whether the US and EU partners would convince other countries that Iran deserved to be reprimanded.

"Iran's invitation for other nations to collaborate on its nuclear activities may for some sound like an attractive offer.

"And after a week at the United Nations, when speech after speech has complained about the unfairness of the power balance in the security council, Iran's complaint that there's a double standard about who's allowed to become a nuclear power and who is not may also be met with some sympathy," she said.