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Britain 'Profoundly Concerned' About Iran's Nuclear Program


Britain says Iran's decision to restart nuclear enrichment related activities is a "profound concern" that could lead to U.N. Security Council action.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has appeared in parliament to explain what he sees as a serious breach by Iran of its nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

"This morning the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed, I regret to say, that Iran had broken seals at nuclear facilities including its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz with a view to resuming research and development, including the introduction of uranium hexafluoride into the centrifuges," said the foreign secretary. "This is enrichment. This is a profound concern."

Straw said he will be meeting his counterparts from France and Germany to discuss referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. "The issue of whether we formally propose a referral to the Security Council will be the key subject for discussion when I meet my EU colleagues, as I hope I shall do, in the next few days," he added.

Some experts say Russia and China might veto any Security Council action against Iran. But Straw says his discussions with those countries have produced, what he calls, "active, if qualified, support" for international diplomatic efforts to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

A non-proliferation specialist at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mark Fitzpatrick, expects action against Iran, with or without U.N. support.

"I do not know if Russia and China will allow the Security Council to impose real sanctions," he said. "And if they do not I think the United States and the Europeans will take action outside of the Security Council. This is too important a threat to international security to let stand."

Iran says it wants to develop nuclear energy for solely peaceful, civilian purposes, but Straw says he doubts that is the object. In his words, "There was no good reason why Iran should have taken this step if its intentions are truly peaceful."