Wednesday, March 15, 2006

UK Might Consider Pushing For Iran Weapons Embargo

Dow Jones Newswires:
The U.K. might consider pushing for a weapons embargo on Iran if other efforts to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program fail, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Tuesday. "The more robust and determined the response (from the U.N. Security Council), I think the quicker that this can be resolved satisfactorily," Straw said during a question session in the House of Commons. READ MORE

The U.K., the U.S., France and Germany pressed the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog to refer concerns over Iran's nuclear program to the powerful Security Council. The allies haven't said publicly what measures they hope to see from the Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions.

Straw said the body should move one step at a time and only make moves that can be reversed if Iran backs down and agrees to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Straw said the Council was likely to start by making a statement on Iran's nuclear program. If that doesn't work, it will probably pass a resolution, he said.

"If that doesn't work, then we are looking toward the possibility of there being measures," he said.

William Hague, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, suggested an embargo prohibiting delivery of weapons and other military equipment to Iran.

"Of course we'll consider (that) carefully," Straw said.

The foreign secretary was also asked whether the U.K. had spoken to Iran about alleged al-Qaida members being held there.

"We have, and the Iranians on the issue of al-Qaida are as ambiguous as they are on so much else," Straw said. "They recognize that al-Qaida is a historic enemy of the Iranian regime, at the same time they've failed so far fully to cooperate with other members of the international community to ensure members of al-Qaida are brought to justice."

He didn't specify which suspects he was referring to.