Testimony of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Iran's Nuclear Program (Excerpts)

June 21, 2005

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • South Korea

. . .

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central) (Lab): If he will make a statement on his discussions with the Iranian Government on its nuclear programme.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): My French and German colleagues, together with the European Union's high representative, and I met an Iranian team in Geneva on 25 May, when discussion took place under the framework of the November 2004 Paris agreement. The European side undertook to present proposals to Iran by the end of July or the beginning of August. Officials are currently working on those proposals, which will include objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes. They will also include economic and technological co-operation, assurances of fuel supply and a political and security framework.

Mr. Illsley: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his reply. He knows that it is essential that he and his European Union counterparts continue the dialogue with Iran. At the G8 summit, will he take the opportunity to raise the issue of the deal struck between Russia and Iran in February this year on the supply of nuclear fuel rods? Russia has insisted that those rods are returned to Iran to safeguard against enriched uranium being used for anything other than peaceful purposes. Will he seek an opportunity to discuss that matter either directly with Russia or within the general framework of the G8?

Mr. Straw: I shall see my colleague Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, tomorrow, and I hope to have a bilateral discussion with him, as well as seeing him at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting. Russia is under contract to provide the design of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr in Iran and also to supply it with fuel, which is consistent with Russia and Iran's obligations under the non-proliferation treaty. Enrichment, reprocessing and conversion facilities within Iran are our concern, and the international community remains perplexed about the scale of the fuel cycle programme in Iran, given that the Iranians have only one nuclear power station coming on stream, and all the fuel for it is due to come from Russia.

Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): I fully support the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) in his demand that our discussions within Iran should continue. Will the Foreign Secretary indicate what discussions he has had with those members of the Iranian political scene who recently contested an election and who will appear in the final round? Does he feel that there is sufficient confidence between us to negotiate sensibly and rationally about Iran's nuclear programme? Iran is a very important country in that part of the world; our ongoing negotiations are critical; and I believe that we carry a great deal of influence.

Mr. Straw: I agree with the hon. Gentleman's final remarks. On his first question, our relations with Iran are strictly Government to Government, as they are with any other sovereign member state of the United Nations, so I have not had discussions with any of the candidates for the presidency of Iran. As the hon. Gentleman knows, last Friday's first round was inconclusive and this Friday's second round is bound to be at least arithmetically conclusive.

Mr. John McFall (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that it is important to emphasise that these are multilateral diplomatic negotiations and not bilateral negotiations? Some countries fear that the negotiations are bilateral and involve the US objective of regime change. It is important to take into consideration the views of countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Japan and even China, so that we end up with a more peaceful world through diplomatic negotiations.

Mr. Straw: The negotiations are, indeed, multilateral. I am pleased and proud that the United Kingdom, France and Germany have taken the lead on the issue. At each stage, our ability to negotiate has been greatly strengthened by the real and effective international consensus, and China, South Korea and other members of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have actively backed the resolutions of the board on the next stage of the negotiations.

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