Daily Telegraph: Britain is resisting American-led efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, as the international community struggles to formulate its next move to prevent the Islamic state building a nuclear bomb. The Daily Telegraph
By Alex Spillius
Britain is resisting American-led efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, as the international community struggles to formulate its next move to prevent the Islamic state building a nuclear bomb.
Although Britain and its allies share the common goal of imposing more sanctions at a later date, differences are emerging over the speed.
The US, increasingly joined by France, is frustrated that Teheran remains in breach of two sets of earlier relatively mild UN sanctions. Western forecasts say that Iran, whose leader has repeatedly threatened destruction on Israel, could develop a nuclear bomb within a few years.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday chose to stress the importance of unity among the major powers involved in negotiations on Iran the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
He will join foreign ministers from the other five powers at a meeting today on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York.
“The most important thing is that the unanimity of the international community is valued by all six [powers”> and sends a very clear signal to Iran and we need to keep that going,” he said at a briefing.
Asked about US and French calls for sanctions outside the UN Security Council, Mr Miliband said: “It’s already the case that European Union countries have taken greater action than was required by the Security Council. That is healthy and good.”
He said European companies and banks were making their own decisions about Iran and quoted a 40 per cent fall in European investment in Iran this year.
The Americans and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France have reacted strongly to remarks earlier this week by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, that his country’s nuclear programme was now a “closed issue”, which would be dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog.
The Foreign Office believes that, without Russia’s willingness, pushing further sanctions now would be futile. Russia has major investments in Iran and has provided expertise for a nuclear energy programme, but has repeatedly said it does not want Iran to have the bomb.