Remarks by Prime Minister Blair on the Iranian Nuclear Issue During His Monthly Conference (Excerpts)

February 27, 2007

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

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Question: Given the comments in recent days by the Iranian President and comments today by the Iranian Foreign Minister who both indicated they have no intention of backing down on their nuclear programme, what evidence have you that the current regime of sanctions and any future sanctions will change that? Would you consider talks with Tehran without them suspending uranium enrichment? And what other measures can Britain take and will they include any military options, as has been suggested?

Prime Minister: Well I don't think I have got anything to add to what I have said a thousand times on military options. People want a political and diplomatic solution to this. But yes the comments from Iran are very worrying, of course they are, because yet again they are indicating they want to defy the international community. And I think we have got therefore to consider what more measures we take, which we are now doing with our partners, and I think the meeting yesterday went pretty well. And I think you know Iran is making a big miscalculation. And this issue to do with talking to them, as I keep saying to people we are perfectly happy to talk to them, it is not a problem with talking to them, the question is what is the conversation about, given that they are saying they are not going to suspend enrichment, they are still supporting extremism in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Palestine, and they are not showing any signs that they are prepared to stop doing that. So sometimes it is portrayed in terms of you know you are just not willing to go and talk to them, as if it was a sort of act of petulance, it is what are we going to talk about? The Americans have offered for the first time in 27 years to go and talk to the Iranians, provided they do what the international community has demanded as a first step, which is suspend enrichment. So what is the problem that they have other than that they are not going to suspend enrichment - that is the problem.

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Question: You noted that there were moderately successful talks yesterday, hosted by your government, regarding Iran, there are other discussions now that seem to be ... [inaudible]. Does that please you, is that the way to go as opposed to the military option? . . .

Prime Minister: . . . In respect of the situation in North Korea and Iran, look the only thing that will work is for the international community to be tough and clear and unified, and the tougher, and clearer and more unified we are, the better the result we will get and the less the whole issue of military action arises. So you know what we have got to realise in this situation is that for all of us in the international community, the tougher we are in insisting that Iran comply and indeed be prepared to take tough measures on sanctions and diplomatic action if they don't, then the more likely we are to get the result we want. Any sign of weakness is absolutely fatal. And what has happened in the past few months, in part I think as a result of the actions and decisions by the US administration, is that a tough message has yielded results, and we should learn from that lesson I think.

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