Straw: Iran stand-off can be averted

Britain's Foreign Secretary has said the United Nations should continue to push Iran into abandoning its disputed nuclear programme but also allow for talks to resume "at any stage".

    Straw says the door should be left open for negotiations

    Jack Straw said the international community was right to press Tehran into giving up its nuclear research because of fears it was a front for developing nuclear weapons.

    In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Straw said it was not too late to resolve the stand-off, outlining four ways of dealing with the issue.
    "First, our objective is to exert the pressure needed so that  Iran restores a full, verifiable suspension of all  enrichment-related and reprocessing activity, and cooperates in full  with the (International Atomic Energy Agency)," he said.

    'Reversible action'

    "Second, action taken by the Security Council should be  incremental, one step at a time, and it should also be reversible so that we could respond to Iranian actions and reactions.

    "We should leave the door open for negotiations with Iran to  resume at any stage, so they can then come into compliance. Third, we want to maintain the strongest possible international consensus.

    "Fourth and finally, the Security Council will be invited to act  to reinforce the authority of the IAEA, which will continue to play the central role in monitoring, verifiying and resolving outstanding issues."

    The UN Security Council, which could decide on economic  sanctions, is expected to meet next week to call on Tehran to comply with an IAEA request to suspend its nuclear programme.



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