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Britain’s Beckett talks to Radio 4 on Iran nuclear impasse

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Iran Focus: London, Sep. 22 – The following is an edited transcript of an interview with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on Radio 4’s Today Programme on 20 September: Iran Focus

London, Sep. 22 – The following is an edited transcript of an interview with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on Radio 4’s Today Programme on 20 September:

INTERVIEWER:
The world, or at least the Western world including Britain and the United States, thinks Iran has a programme for making nuclear weapons and it wants to stop. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the nuclear enrichment programme is for peaceful nuclear power and he has no intention of stopping. And last night he delivered a typically defiant message to the United Nations, indeed he went further, he said Britain and America were using the UN Security Council for their own ends.

Our Correspondent Mike Wooldridge was there.

ANNOUNCER:
I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad …

MIKE WOOLDRIDGE (BBC CORRESPONDENT):
The Iranian leader provoked much controversy here last year when he called for Israel to be wiped off the map. This time, with his country under pressure at the UN over its uranium enrichment activities, President Ahmadinejad devoted virtually his whole speech to challenging the Security Council’s legitimacy.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH AN INTERPRETER):
All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful, and under the watchful eyes of the IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognised rights? Which Governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy in the fuel cycle. Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non peaceful ends including the production of nuclear bombs and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity.

MIKE WOOLDRIDGE:
In what appeared to be a pre-emptive strike against the threat of sanctions over its nuclear activities Mr Ahmadinejad spoke of some permanent members of the Security Council conveniently threatening others with Council action. He turned to the recent conflict in Lebanon and said the world witnessed that the Security Council was practically incapacitated by certain powers in even calling for a cease fire. And he went on to ask if the United States and Britain as permanent members of the Security Council commit aggression can a Council in which their privileged members call them to account.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD:
It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner it will neither be legitimate nor effective.

MIKE WOOLDRIDGE:
Earlier in the day as President Bush was speaking inside the UN the signs held aloft by these protesters across the street included ‘No war on Iran’.

The gulf between Mr Bush’s remarks on Iran and President Ahmadinejad’s address did little to suggest that any early solution to the nuclear crisis is in the offing.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett met her Iranian counterpart during the day but when I spoke to her afterwards she said she remained unclear about Iran’s intentions.

MARGARET BECKETT:
Well we have, I believe, been very patient. The international community is very willing to negotiate, we believe that is the best course of action. It’s still not quite clear to me whether Iran really does want to negotiate.

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