Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith responds to Questions from Parliament

September 17, 2008

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Mr DREYFUS (2:18 PM): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, is Iran complying with its obligations under international law with respect to its nuclear program? What is the Australian government's approach to Iran's uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities?

Mr STEPHEN SMITH: I thank the member for his question. It is a matter of some regret that there have been further troubling developments on the question of Iran's nuclear program. I am deeply concerned by a report released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, on 15 September-16 September Australian time-that confirms that Iran is persisting with its uranium enrichment and reprocessing related activities in violation of four legally binding United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Regrettably, this shows that Iran has yet again failed to provide the IAEA with the access it needs to give credible assurances about the nature of Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has comprehensive and detailed information which suggests that Iran has conducted studies into nuclear weapons and that Iranian military entities have been involved in nuclear procurement. Iran continues to dismiss this information as 'forged and fabricated' and continues to hinder the IAEA's investigation into these issues.

These actions are not those of a state seeking to address the international community's concern about the nature of its nuclear program. Iran needs to comply immediately with its obligations and suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing related activities. It must grant the IAEA the access it needs to remove the international community's justifiable doubts about Iran's peaceful intentions.

Australia supports the efforts of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany-the so-called 'P5 plus 1' group-to engage constructively with Iran and the generous incentives package that the P5 plus 1 group has offered Iran should it suspend its enrichment activities. It is in Iran's interests to accept the incentives package, which represents the best way to resolve the nuclear issue to the benefit of all in the international community. Iran has a clear choice: to cooperate with the international community or to face further isolation from the international community.

Australia has made a firm commitment against the spread of nuclear weapons. Australia strongly supports, and has implemented fully, United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran which targetIran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities. Australia has also implemented sanctions into domestic law, including financial and travel restrictions as well as a prohibition on the supply of specific goods, services and financing which could assist Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

Australia welcomes the European Union agreement in late June to impose new travel and financial sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment. In light of Iran's continuing failure to comply with its international obligations, the Australian government is considering what further measures it can take within the international community to bring further pressure to bear on Iran. I conclude by reiterating that Iran's noncompliance with legally binding United Nations Security Council resolutions is of grave concern to the international community and remain of continuing and grave concern to the Australian government.