Iran sanctions: Foreign Secretary speaks to BBC News

Foreign Secretary William Hague answers questions on BBC News Channel on the United Nations sanctions against Iran

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The Rt Hon William Hague

William Hague (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs): … Security Council resolution, resolution 1929. It’s a strong statement of international resolve to prevent Iranian nuclear proliferation. It intensifies the peaceful and legitimate pressure on Iran to meet its obligations and the previous Security Council resolutions, and to cooperate with the IAEA. Nothing in recent months has given confidence to the international community that Iran’s nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

The Iranians have reneged on previous commitments, they have defied previous resolutions of the Security Council, they have refused to enter in to meaningful negotiations about the nuclear programme as a whole. And that’s why this resolution is so important. It is saying that a refusal to negotiate will not work. The world won’t just walk away in the face of a refusal to negotiate. And Britain and our partners have remained throughout willing to negotiate about their nuclear programme as a whole. That very much remains the case today and we hope that Iran will take up that offer.

Unidentified Reporter: But Iran has reacted to every previous attempt to put further pressure on it by defiance, and in advance of this vote had warned that if there were more sanctions then it would refuse to negotiate.

WH: Iran’s position has in any case been, so far, to refuse to negotiate about its nuclear programme. And at the one point where it did seem that negotiations were making progress last year, the commitments that were made that were then not followed up. The commitment made last October to have a further meeting within a month, and then that never happened; to allow the International Energy Agency inspectors to have the necessary information about the nuclear enrichment facility at Qom, and that information then has never been supplied. So Iran’s position has already been, for a long time, that it won’t enter in to meaningful negotiations about its nuclear programme. And the importance of this resolution was that strong backing in the UN Security Council, including from all of the five permanent members, including from China and Russia, as well as from Britain, France and the United States, is that it’s, it’s the world saying ‘You can’t just refuse to negotiate, we’re not just going to walk away in the light of that’.

Unidentified Reporter: But this new requirement suggesting that nations could actually board Iranian ships to check out their cargos, to make sure that they’re not breaching the sanctions, isn’t that going to be a recipe for more confrontation?

WH: They are stronger sanctions, there is no doubt about that. And that includes on cargos of possible arms shipments. It includes the activities, targeted for the first time, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps. It includes their ability to invest in nuclear projects elsewhere in the world, including any investment in their nuclear projects. Yes, many of these things are a very significant strengthening of sanctions. This is a major toughening of the sanctions on Iran, and I think it is a good and powerful signal from the rest of the world that that has been agreed, on such a broadly based basis, with China and Russia, as I say, as well as with the other permanent members of the Security Council.

Unidentified Reporter: But isn’t that signal weakened by the fact that Brazil and Turkey voted against?

WH: Well I think Brazil and Turkey share the objectives of the rest of us on the Security Council, of, of Iranian willingness to enter in to negotiations, something that we’re trying to create. They have differed with us over this resolution, but Brazil and Turkey don’t differ with us on the objectives, that Iran should enter in to negotiations, and they should cooperate properly with the international authorities, that they should abide by previous Security Council resolutions. Iran should not take comfort from the votes of Brazil and Turkey because Brazil and Turkey certainly want Iran to enter in to those negotiations as well.

Unidentified Reporter: But just finally, Iran has found ways of getting round previous sanctions. It has simply refused point blank to engage. What makes you think that these sanctions, even though they’re tougher, what makes you think that they are going to make any difference whatsoever to Iran’s attitude?

WH: Well they show that in the absence of a change of course, the absence of a change of attitude, then sanctions will be intensified, that the world will not be put off, will not just say ‘We are going to ignore this problem’. Now that is the importance of this resolution, and of course it gives an opportunity to European nations, and we will be discussing this in European Union meetings next week, to build further on these sanctions in the way that we implement them. So it will be a significant increase in the pressure on Iran.

Unidentified Reporter: But what if Iran continues to defy you? What then?

WH: Well this is what we are setting out on here. What we’re continuing here is a peaceful and legitimate intensification of pressure on Iran. That, of course, may need to be intensified further in the future, but for today this is a very significant step forward. It really shows the international resolve on this issue, it shows that in a very broadly based way. And it shows that the Iranian tactic of simply not being willing to negotiate about its nuclear programme as a whole is not a tactic that is going to work.

Unidentified Reporter: Thank you very much.

WH: Thank you very much indeed.

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Published 9 June 2010