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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK welcomes US overtures towards Iran

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 25, IRNA -- The British government has praised the new policy adopted by US President Barack Obama in wanting to engage with Iran but has yet to switch to a less confrontational approach itself with regard to its relations with Tehran.

"We very much welcome the US Administration's willingness to engage directly with Iran," said Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Bill Rammell.

"The United States Administration have rightly said that they are willing in principle to open a direct dialogue with Iran. We need to reinforce that," Rammell said.

But while the US was reviewing its position with regard to Iran, he told the British parliament on Tuesday that the UK government was only 'discussing the issue'.

The minister still insisted that Iran has to decide whether to accept 'the very generous E3 plus 3 offer and a transformed relationship with the international community' or what he described as "continuing on the path of confrontation, increasing isolation, and tougher and expanded sanctions'.

"We all need to work together to force Iran to confront that fundamental choice: on the one hand, engagement and all the benefits that it can bring or, on the other, increased isolation," he said in reverting back to the previous approach.

His comments come as the former director general of the IAEA, Hans Blix, criticized the US and the Europeans for the years that have been lost by their 'ineffective approaches' to Iran's nuclear program.

"Europeans and backseat-driving Americans have demanded that Iran must suspend its enrichment program before they are ready to dignify the country with direct negotiations," Blix said, adding that it was the EU and not Tehran that had now 'become eager for negotiations'.

"The demands that Iran should accept ever more inspection are meaningless. They are not made to help Iran show its lack of weapons intentions but in the hope that convincing incriminating evidence will be found," he said.

In an article for the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, the former UN head of arms inspections in Iraq suggested that the Obama should adopt the line 'taken by the US in the talks with North Korea, and offer as part of a nuclear agreement guarantees against attacks from the outside and subversive activities inside Iran'.

He also believed that the prospect of US relations and a place in regional discussions "would offer Iran a greater incentive to reach a nuclear agreement than the Bush team's statements that 'Iran must behave itself'."

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