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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran nuclear talks remain conditional, UK clarifies

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 17, IRNA -- The renewed offer made to Iran by Prime Minister Gordon Brown over its nuclear program was more of a change in tone and approach, rather than in substance, according to the British Foreign Office.

In a keynote speech at an international fuel cycle conference in London Tuesday, Brown offered Iran a 'test case' deal to help the development of nuclear power for civilian use with the framework of United Nations rules.

"I hope that Iran will make the right choice and take advantage of the international community's willingness to negotiate, including President Obama's offer of engagement, rather than face further sanctions and regional instability," he said.

But a Foreign Office spokesman told IRNA that the prime minister's offer of negotiations remains conditional on Iran first suspending its uranium enrichment program.

"Five Security Council resolutions have stressed the necessity of Iran ceasing its nuclear enrichment as a precursor to full negotiations. This has not changed," the spokesman said.

He suggested that although Brown did not repeat his call for suspension, it was implicit in his speech, when he described Iran's current nuclear activities as 'unacceptable' given that it has been the primary sticking point on negotiations.

"Suspending Uranium enrichment is an essential precursor for demonstrating Iranian goodwill and building international confidence," the Foreign Office spokesman said.

In his speech, Brown reiterated Britain's position that Iran has 'the same absolute right to a peaceful nuclear program as any other country' and said Iran has a choice 'to change to a UN overseen civil nuclear program'.

The spokesman said that Iran stands to benefit in a number of way. "Firstly, negotiations are a means of establishing a framework to ensure that Iran is able to conduct all the activities it needs for a peaceful civil nuclear program, in compliance with IAEA & NPT regulations," he said.

"Secondly, there are a generous package of offers on the table, including practical assistance in developing a state-of-the art civil nuclear program, upgrading economic and political relations with a range of countries, including the US," he added.

In context, the spokesman said that Brown's strong message in his speech was that greater reliance on civilian nuclear power is an 'unavoidable solution' for addressing the challenges of climate change but that the wider usage increases the risks of weapons proliferation.

"The prime minister is proposing technical cooperation to assist non-nuclear states in developing nuclear energy programs, but at the same time he stressed the importance of increased multilateral regulation to strengthen safeguards," he said.

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