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No Policy Of Regime Change In Iran: British Foreign Secretary

"I have to say to you that regime change in Iran is not part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, nor do I think it would be wise," Straw said during a question period in parliament.

London (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ruled out a policy of regime change against Iran on Tuesday amid mounting concern about Tehran's development of nuclear weapons and its stance towards Israel.

"I have to say to you that regime change in Iran is not part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, nor do I think it would be wise," Straw said during a question period in parliament.

He had been asked whether London still ruled out discussions with groups opposed to the Iranian government, and was responding to claims that internal regime change "could reduce the implied (nuclear) threat considerably".

Straw said Britain was working with other European countries as well as the United States and Russia to ensure that Iran complies with its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations.

In February, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the initial emphasis should be on a diplomatic approach to the situation in Iran.

An angry British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last Thursday that he felt a "real sense of revulsion" after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

"If they continue down this path, then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world security and stability," he told reporters after a day-long summit of European Union leaders outside London.

Other European leaders strongly condemned the remarks and warned Iran it could become a pariah state.

Israel has alleged that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that could strike at its heart.

Tehran, however, insists its nuclear intentions are peaceful, although the International Atomic Energy Agency found in September that Iran was in non-compliance with the NPT.

The matter will be discussed at the next IAEA board meeting later this month.

related report
Iran parliament delays reprisal threat over nuclear pressure
Tehran (AFP) Nov 01 -- Iran's parliament decided Tuesday to delay any retaliation to criticism from the UN's nuclear watchdog, but upheld the threat of reprisals if the country is referred to the Security Council.

The conservative-held assembly had threatened to immediately push through a bill that would limit the powers of International Atomic Energy Agencyinspectors by halting application of an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This protocol, crucial to an IAEA probe into allegations the Islamic republic is seeking nuclear weapons, was signed by the previous reformist government but has not been ratified by parliament.

The threat came after a tough IAEA resolution passed in September, which chastised Iran for being in "non-compliance" with the NPT. This paves the way for the case to be sent to New York.

But the official news agency IRNA said members of parliament's foreign policy commission had changed the draft bill to stipulate reprisals only if the Islamic republic "is reported or referred to the UN Security Council".

The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors is next due to discuss Iran on November 24.

Following approval by the commission, the draft bill will go back to parliament for a vote, although further changes are possible. Any laws passed by parliament are also subject to the approval of the Guardians Council, an unelected vetting body likewise controlled by hardliners.

The commission's spokesman, Kazem Jalali, said the bill would force the government to "stop voluntary and legally non-binding measures".

IRNA said the new version of the bill states that if sent to the Security Council, "Iran would then carry out its executive, research and scientific activities in order to achieve the nation's nuclear rights within the NPT."

These would also entail a resumption of uranium enrichment work -- which has been suspended since late 2003 as a "confidence-building measure".

Iran says it only want to enrich uranium to make reactor fuel, but critics argue Iran can not be trusted with a technology that can also be diverted to military purposes.

"If the ruling system of the international community inflicts duties upon us that go beyond the laws and regulations ... there is no reasonable room for cooperation and voluntary acts," Jalali was quoted as saying.

In August Iran rejected an EU offer of trade and other incentives in exchange for a cessation of fuel work and resumed uranium conversion, a precursor to enrichment work.

The move led to a breakdown in talks with Britain, France and Germany, and the IAEA's resolution urged Iran to return to a full suspension of fuel cycle activities.

Iran has so far refused to do so.

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