HC Deb 14 October 2003 vol 411 cc15-6
10. Mr. David Ruffiey (Bury St. Edmunds)

What recent discussions he has had with the Government of Iran about their civil nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement. [132007]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw)

I spoke most recently to the Iranian Foreign Minister about nuclear matters on 3 October. The United Kingdom Government have frequent contact with the Government of Iran on this subject, and we have made clear our serious concerns. We have also made clear our wish that Iran should maintain complete transparency about its nuclear programme, and comply fully with the demands set out in the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors resolution on 12 September.

Mr. Ruffley

The IAEA has imposed a strict deadline of 31 October by which Iran must fully disclose the nature and extent of its uranium enrichment programme, yet the Iranian ambassador to the agency has refused to recognise that deadline as binding. Will the Foreign Secretary therefore confirm that if Iran does not comply, he will continue to rule out the threat of military sanctions of any kind against Iran?

Mr. Straw

We wish to see the matter resolved peacefully. I will not predict what will happen, except to say that we have adopted a consistent approach in respect of Iran. It was partly through our action that we were able to secure a consensus resolution 34:1—a tough resolution—in the IAEA board in mid-September. Dr. el-Baradei, the head of the agency, is going back to Iran to ensure that the Iranians comply with the demands made by the board. We look forward to his report to the IAEA board, which is to be made on 7 November.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones (Cardiff, Central)

On the subject of consistency, the British position with regard to Iran may be consistent, but how is it consistent for the United States to threaten action against Iran for developing nuclear power, while at the same time covertly helping Israel develop marine-launched nuclear weapons?

Mr. Straw

The Government of the United States supported the IAEA resolution that was passed in mid-September, which, with the full support of the US Government, recognised the basic and inalienable right of all member states to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes. That is not the issue here.

Mr. Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford)

Given the recent reports that Russia is supplying various elements of nuclear technology to Iran, what representations have the Government made to ensure that we do not find ourselves on a collision course with Russia, and to ensure that Russia is making a positive contribution to a crucial issue?

Mr. Straw

I had positive and constructive discussions about exactly that matter with my Russian opposite number, Igor Ivanov, in a bilateral meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York three weeks ago. Russia voted for the IAEA resolution in mid-September. We are working very closely with our European Union partners, the United States and Russia to ensure that that consensus is maintained.

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