Reuters: The Conservatives, favourites to win an election due in weeks, said on Wednesday they would back a U.N. arms embargo on Iran and a ban on oil and gas investment if Tehran remains defiant over its nuclear plans. LONDON (Reuters) – The Conservatives, favourites to win an election due in weeks, said on Wednesday they would back a U.N. arms embargo on Iran and a ban on oil and gas investment if Tehran remains defiant over its nuclear plans.
Iran's lack of cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog "warrants a firm and strongly reinforced response from the rest of the world," William Hague, the opposition party's foreign policy spokesman, said in a speech.
Hague's stance is tougher than that adopted by the Labour government or the current proposal before the United Nations, which does not call for sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industries, as an earlier French draft proposed.
He said the Conservatives, ahead in the polls before an election widely expected in May, had long advocated intensive diplomacy, a resolute display of unity from European countries and tough action at the U.N. Security Council to try to resolve the Iran issue.
"Unless Iran changes course, we will do our utmost to secure such action, which in our view should include the imposition by the U.N. of a full arms embargo, a ban on the provision of military training and support services to Iran, a ban on oil and gas investment and an inspections regime to choke off nuclear smuggling to Iran …," he said.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for defying U.N. demands it halt nuclear enrichment.
A Western proposal for fresh U.N. sanctions on Iran, currently under discussion, includes a call for restricting new Iranian banks abroad and urges "vigilance" against the Islamic Republic's central bank, diplomats said last Friday.
China has so far refused to engage in "substantive negotiations" on new U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
Tehran rejects Western charges that its nuclear programme is aimed at developing bombs and says it will only be used to generate electricity.
The European Union is Iran's largest trading partner and action on the Iran issue is an opportunity for Europe to show how it could use its collective weight in the world, Hague said in the speech to the Royal United Services Institute, a defence thinktank.
"We believe that European measures should additionally include the mirroring of U.S. financial sanctions, action against other Iranian banks and the blacklisting of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps," he said.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Dominic Evans)