Press Conference with Tony Blair on Iran's Uranium Enrichment Freeze (Excerpts)

November 29, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

. . .

QUESTION: My Question is also about security, but not ID cards, it is more an international issue. Iran, immediately after it signed an agreement with the EU3 on stopping the process of enrichment ... was involved in that process and that has resulted in a lot of concern at an international level and that there were talks again, and only today Iran has given a guarantee that it won't use the centrifuges and stop the process of enrichment of uranium. But what guarantee do you have? In the past Iran has been involved in secret activities in uranium, what guarantee do you have that it won't start that process again?

PRIME MINISTER: I think the most important thing is to make sure that they are in a process where the Atomic Energy Authority has got the ability to hold them to account for the undertakings that they are given. And really our task, France, Germany and Britain have been working very closely on this as you know, our task has been to get the undertakings from Iran, but to recognize that in the end we will have to make sure that the right authority, in this case the Atomic Energy Authority, then make sure that the undertakings they have given are actually adhered to, and I hope this can be done. Look, we have made some progress on the WMD issue. Libya has been a tremendous success in that context. Iran, let us hope that the undertakings are both properly given and adhered to. There is the issue of North Korea that is obviously extremely important and I will have a chance to talk about that with the President of the Korean Republic when I see him on Wednesday, but we will make sure we hold Iran to account.

QUESTION: Last week in your press conference with President Chirac you said that basically you would be ready to support those in any country who want the basic freedoms that people in France and Britain take for granted. The student movement in Iran, and many prominent reformists, have called for a referendum to replace ... with democracy, and to ensure those basic rights such as human rights and democracy that you referred to last week, what substantive support are you willing to give this movement and these prominent reformists?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I think the first thing is to make it clear that we support those who would like the same democratic rights as we have here. I think the second thing is that I hope that the UN panel that is looking at a reform of the UN, I made mention of this in my Mansion House speech, that we do get to the point where we start as an international community to put greater pressure on regimes for basic democratic human rights for people. Now beyond that there is a limit frankly to what we are able to do in any given situation, but I hope by a means of dialogue, and also pressure, that we can get change. I sympathize with people in Iran and elsewhere who want the same freedoms that we want, and I have no doubt at all that in the end the best way to run any country is through democracy.

. . .

QUESTION: On the back of Jack Straw's recent visit to the Middle East, it is quite clear that there is a game plan being prepared to enable the Palestinians to deliver some form of security. Could you let us into your innermost thoughts on what your next plans are in regard to this? Is there going to be a London conference? How can you ensure that the Palestinians are able to deliver the security that Israel desperately wants? And also when, if you are going to Israel in December, the one big concern the Israelis have is that the one topic that has been touched on earlier about Iran's nuclear capability, there are continuing reports, especially over the weekend, that despite everything and all the safeguards Europe has tried to obtain to prove that the nuclear proposals Iran has do not lead to a nuclear weapon, everybody is talking about there is a secret plan in operation to produce one which is going to cause great alarm in the region. And what are you going to do when you are speaking to the Israelis about Iran's continuing support for terrorism?

PRIME MINISTER: It is precisely for that reason that we remain absolutely on the case in respect of Iran, that is why we are putting a lot of work and energy into making sure that Iran complies with the Atomic Energy Authority rules, and we will carry on doing that. We are well aware of the fact, never mind for Israel alone, but for other countries in the region, why that is important. And in respect of the issues to do with the Palestinian state, my preoccupation is to make sure that we have a clear way forward for a proper functioning Palestinian state, based on the principles of democracy, transparency, freedom, security, not just for the Palestinians themselves but obviously for Israel too. And I can't say any more about the way we will take this forward at the moment, but the window of opportunity has opened for us - to use the old cliché - over the past few weeks and in my view we would be very foolish to pass up the possibility of going through that, and that will require a lot of attention to the detail of what we are going to do, and that is what I am working on for the moment.

. . .

QUESTION: One of the Nobel Peace Prizewinners in an open letter, it was I think this weekend, has criticized the UK government for not implementing its obligations drawn by NPT, and the same issue has been raised on other occasions by MPs and especially independent organizations like Baseek (phon), especially the separate cooperation with the US government on developing a new generation of nuclear bombs has been put on the serious Questions many times. In contrast the UK is asking Iran to ignore her uranium enrichment activities which is awarded to all NPT signatories. I wonder how do you comment on this contradiction?

PRIME MINISTER: I am afraid I comment by very simply saying that we are abiding by our international obligations and will continue to do so, and what is important is that Iran does that as well. And any of the obligations that they have that are to be monitored by the Atomic Energy Authority they should be complying with and should be giving the facilities necessary to monitor them. Because otherwise, sometimes when the argument is put in that way I have to say to you it raises concerns on the part of people here.

. . .