Britain, France press Iran on nuclear programme

London–Two important members of UNSC, Great Britain and France are pressing hard Iran to abandon their nuclear programme.

Britain and France put new pressure on Iran to obey international rules over its nuclear programme and underlined the intention of the United States and European powers to ensure it does so.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow also shared the goal of preventing nuclear proliferation, but he cautioned against doing anything that might threaten the work of the UN nuclear agency in Iran.

Lavrov gave no hint after talks in Paris that Russia was about to abandon cooperation with Tehran on a nuclear plant it is building in Iran, despite calls to do so by Washington.

The United States and European powers suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear arms but Iran denies this, saying its programme is purely for peaceful purposes.

”They (Iran) have to abide by the rules of the international community on their nuclear capability. They have to stop support for terrorism, whether it’s in the Middle East or elsewhere,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in London.

”I think they would make a great mistake if they thought the international community lacked the will to make sure that is done,” he told a news conference.

In Paris, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Douste-Blazy said that Iran must abide by an agreement reached in the French capital almost a year ago to halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that creates atomic fuel for power plants or weapons.

”We simply want two things — that the international community is as united as possible and to explain to Iran that our aim is not crisis, but negotiations,” Douste-Blazy said after talks with Lavrov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.

”We want to explain to Iran that the Paris agreement of November 2004 must continue to be respected.”

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to meet British and French leaders this week to try to agree a joint strategy on how to curb Iran’s suspected nuclear arms programme.

[inline:1]She also wants to shore up support for reporting Iran to the United Nations Security Council after the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency agreed to do so but failed to set a deadline for the move that could lead to sanctions.

Lavrov said Russia agreed entirely Iran must not develop nuclear weapons but said the IAEA’s work in Iran, which includes inspections of sensitive sites, should not be endangered by the international community’s stance.

Iran threatened last month to start uranium enrichment and stop allowing UN inspections of its atomic facilities if its nuclear programme was reported to the UN Security Council.