Statement by U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Iran’s Nuclear Program

October 23, 2003

Together with my French and German colleagues I visited Tehran on 21 October for discussions on Iran's nuclear programme. We met President Khatami, Foreign Minister Kharrazi and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Committee Hassan Rouhani. Our discussions were aimed at underlining to the Iranian authorities the concerns of the international community regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the necessity for Iran to comply fully with the requirements of the international atomic energy agency (IAEA) board of governors' resolution adopted on 12 September.

By the end of our visit, we were able to agree a joint statement, which committed Iran to comply with the three key elements of the IAEA board resolution:

  • to engage in full co-operation with the IAEA to address and resolve, through full transparency, all requirements and outstanding issues of the agency, and clarify and correct any possible failures and deficiencies within the IAEA;
  • to sign the IAEA additional protocol, and commence ratification procedures. As a confirmation of its good intentions, the Iranian Government states that it would continue to co-operate with the Agency in accordance with the Protocol in advance of its ratification;
  • to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, as defined by the IAEA. I will place the full text of the joint statement in the Library of the House today.

This joint statement represents a good start to the process of resolving international concerns over Iran's nuclear programme and we welcomed it as such. But we also made clear to our Iranian interlocutors that the real test will be full and early implementation of the commitments they have offered. They know that the international community will be looking closely at the evidence in the next report of the IAEA director-general, which is due to be presented to the board of governors in early November.

The joint statement makes clear that, while implementation of the steps outlined should enable the IAEA board to resolve the immediate problem with Iran, there is also a longer-term issue. Britain, France and Germany remain ready to address that issue through dialogue with Iran on a basis for longer term co-operation, which would provide all parties with satisfactory assurances about Iran's nuclear power generation programme. We made clear that it is only once international concerns are fully resolved that Iran could expect easier access to modern technology and supplies.

The visit has demonstrated the value of a united approach between Britain, France and Germany, working to uphold the decisions of the IAEA and its board of governors, and consistent with the common approach to Iran agreed by several European Councils.