Bill Rammell MP Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Western powers suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Tehran says it is for peaceful power generation only.
The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, said this week Iran could gain the capability to make a nuclear weapon in two to five years but there was ample time to deal with the concern.
Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said Britain was urging Iran to engage with an offer put on the table last year by the six powers — the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany — known as the E3+3.
“The new U.S. administration has indicated that this will be a priority for them. They’ve indicated that they will talk directly to the Iranians but within a context that makes it clear that a nuclear-weaponized Iran is not acceptable,” he told a committee hearing on nuclear non-proliferation.
“There is a choice here for Iran. It’s either to engage and to get all the benefits that are available through the E3+3 process or to face significant ratcheting up of further sanctions,” he said.
He said Britain was trying to get international consensus on sanctions against Iran.
“That is why we’ve been working at the Security Council, it’s why we’ve been working in the EU (European Union), but we’ve made clear if necessary we will go further on our own.”
“I can assure you there is a very strong message that goes from the government to banks and to British industry about the undesirability of investing in Iran,” he said.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
Iran has rejected the six powers’ long-standing demand for a suspension of enrichment before talks can begin and has gradually expanded its program during the stalemate, raising fears it may be approaching bomb-making capability.
Germany hosts talks on Iran’s nuclear program
The meeting comes two days after Iran set alarm bells ringing by launching a low Earth orbit satellite into space.
Senior diplomats from six world powers met Wednesday for the first time under the new US administration to discuss Iran‘s nuclear ambitions, two days after Tehran launched its first satellite.
Political directors from the UN Security Council permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany met in Wiesbaden near the western German city of Frankfurt.
The get-together comes two days after Iran set alarm bells ringing by launching a low Earth orbit satellite into space, technology the West fears Tehran could use in the future to carry nuclear warheads.
Iran insists its first home-built Omid (Hope) satellite, launched on Monday, has no military application, but Washington made clear it was unimpressed.
“This action does not convince us that Iran is acting responsibly to advance stability or security in the region,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday. “Efforts to develop missile delivery capability, efforts to continue on an illicit nuclear program, or threats that Iran makes toward Israel and its sponsorship of terror are of acute concern to this administration.”
The launch “sends the wrong signal to the international community which has already passed five successive UN Security Council resolutions on Iran‘s nuclear and ballistic missile program,” said British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell on Tuesday.
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Added: December 12, 2008
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on December 6, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said the international efforts to curb Irans nuclear activities have been a failure.