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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Straw: 'World not split on Iran'
Jack Straw
Mr Straw says Iran thought it could split the international community
Iran has failed in its attempts to split the international community over the response to its nuclear programme, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

He told the BBC that at every level the international community was "more united in its concern to ensure full compliance by the Iranians".

He was talking to the Today programme during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Mr Straw rejected claims that the US and Europe were at odds over the issue of military action against Iran.

He acknowledged the position differed on whether force could theoretically be used, but said "in practice both the Americans and Europeans, the Russians and Chinese are committed to finding a diplomatic solution to this issue".

Under pressure

Mr Straw said the UK did not expect that Iran would comply with demands to halt uranium enrichment within a 30-day deadline set by the United Nations Security Council.

Negotiating with the Iranians takes a kind of rondo form, so you never quite know what is going to happen
Jack Straw

The Iranian government was feeling the pressure of international condemnation of its nuclear ambitions, despite recent remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said.

On Tuesday the five permanent members of the security council - the UK, France, Russia, China and the US - met with Germany in Moscow, but failed to reach agreement over possible sanctions against Iran if it does not comply.

Mr Straw said he expected the issue to return to the security council after the 28 April deadline has passed.

'Belligerent statements'

"We are working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from the security council within the 30-day deadline," he said.

"Negotiating with the Iranians takes a kind of rondo form, so you never quite know what is going to happen.

"But what is most likely to happen is that the matter will move back to the security council and there will then be discussions about the next steps which the international community will take.

"They have responded more than I think people see. For example, they were threatening total withdrawal from the operation of the inspectors - that hasn't actually happened.

"I think Iran is feeling some of the pressure, as well as its president making belligerent statements."

Hamas urged

He said the security council was now waiting on a report from Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to see what he says about Iran's compliance or non-compliance with the obligations imposed on it by the IAEA.

During the interview, Mr Straw also urged the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority to take action to allow the restoration of European funding.

EU aid to the Palestinians, which totals about 350m annually, was temporarily suspended last week.

Mr Straw said Hamas must end support for terrorism and recognise Israel's existence.

"What we are seeking to do by a temporary suspension of our funding of the Palestinian Authority is to secure some change of approach by that authority," he said.

"It is our hope that we can resume the funding of the PA - that is also the hope of the European Union.

"But there has to be some movement by the new Palestinian government and some recognition that, with the power of government which they now have, go responsibilities."


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