Minutes of Evidence with Jack Straw, Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Taken Before the Foreign Affairs Committee (Excerpt)

December 6, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

. . .

Sir John Stanley: Has the E3 got or not got a deal with Iran that will keep Iran out of going down the nuclear weapons route? Every time I see reports of a deal almost the following day I see a comment from the Iranian Government which suggests that the deal has disappeared off the table or maybe will happen in a few months' time.

Mr. Straw: We had agreement reached in Paris on 5 and 6 November and that was followed by a consensus decision of the IAEA Board of Governors a week ago last Friday. Under that Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment reprocessing and related activities with respect to both: uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, pending a long-term agreement about secure supplies for Iran and also re-opening of trade co-operation and negotiation between ourselves and Iran and other matters. Iran has always claimed that it has no nuclear weapons ambitions. The problem has arisen because it is incontrovertible that Iran has been in breach of its safeguards agreement under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that is well charted, and that they have developed technologies in a number of nuclear fields which can be used for the development of a nuclear weapons programme. Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article 2, any development of a nuclear weapons programme and research associated with that is banned. On the other hand it is the case under Article 4 that all such non-nuclear weapon states, including Iran, are permitted to develop a nuclear energy programme, a peaceful one. That is the issue. I am not a soothsayer; I cannot tell you exactly what is going to happen in the future. However, what I am convinced of is that this has been a better approach to resolving this issue in a peaceful way and ensuring a higher degree of certainty about Iran's intentions and capabilities than any other approach I could conceive of.

Chairman: Clearly, as Sir John has said, every time you make an advance apparently at the Paris meeting there is a qualification from Mr Rohani or another representative of the Iranian Government. Now he has said that the suspension which you had agreed in Paris will be very short. Does this disappoint you? Was this done specifically to avoid a referral to the Security Council?

Mr. Straw: Each side in these negotiations has a domestic audience. The reason the Iranians negotiate hard on texts is that when they read texts they know that they are expected to respect and observe the texts and we look to them to respect and observe the texts that they have agreed.

Chairman: I will not press you further other than to thank you and your colleagues, Secretary of State. It is clearly going to be a very busy period in a week's time or so. We wish you well.

Mr. Straw: Thank you very much.


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