Sunday Times: Gordon Brown is to discuss the looming crisis over Iran with President George W Bush on his first official visit to America as prime minister. The summit may take place next weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat, although the dates and location are still being finalised. The Sunday Times
GORDON BROWN is to discuss the looming crisis over Iran with President George W Bush on his first official visit to America as prime minister. The summit may take place next weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat, although the dates and location are still being finalised.
It comes as one Washington source said the mood in the Bush administration had hardened in favour of military strikes to prevent Iran developing a bomb. There are increasing signs that Bush will not want to leave a nuclear-armed Iran as his legacy, the source said.
Iran is speeding up its nuclear research in defiance of United Nations-imposed sanctions. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that Iran will have 3,000 centrifuges – enough to make the fuel for a bomb – at its uranium enrichment plant by the end of this month.
America is pushing for a tough third sanctions resolution to be brought to the United Nations security council in the autumn, but Britain fears the penalties, including a total ban on arms shipments to and from Iran and strict cargo inspections, may be too harsh to pass in the face of opposition from Russia and China. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
President Bush has said he wants to resolve the issue diplomatically the ball is in the Iranians court, said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council. America is sending a third aircraft carrier to the Gulf to ratchet up military pressure on Iran, although it may eventually relieve another carrier already there.
At the summit, Brown intends to reassure Bush in person that Britain remains a staunch ally of America. Senior American officials expressed concern about the appointment of Lord Malloch-Brown, the former UN deputy secretary-general, as a foreign office minister, and a speech in Washington by Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary, which was widely interpreted as being antiAmerican.
Brown and Bush are likely to focus on joint efforts to combat terrorism, fears about the resurgence of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Irans destabilising regional influence. Climate change, trade and economic issues will also be discussed.
John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, said he hoped America would take military action against Iran. Clearly the diplomatic and sanctions route has failed, he said. Iran has not been deterred from seeking nuclear weapons.