Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 17:19 UK

Get tough with Iran, Brown urges

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Gordon Brown: ''The onus of proof must be on those who breach the non-proliferation treaty''

Gordon Brown has called for the UN to consider "far tougher" sanctions on Iran and North Korea if they pursue nuclear weapons programmes.

The prime minister told a UN summit in New York that the international community could not "stand by" and let the non-proliferation regime be broken.

He said now was a "decisive moment" for the UN to send Iran a clear message.

The PM also said he hoped to cut the UK's fleet of nuclear submarines from four to three by the mid-2020s.

He spoke after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for nuclear disarmament.

President Obama said the "historic resolution" - which was backed by Russia, China and developing nations - enshrined a "shared commitment to a goal of a world without nuclear weapons".

'Work together'

Mr Brown said it was time to "draw a line in the sand" and "refresh the global bargain" which was at the heart of the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Our commitment to non-proliferation remains intact
Iranian government statement

There were three elements to this, he said, the first being to expand access to "affordable, safe and dependable" nuclear power to non-nuclear states.

The second was to "strengthen the non-proliferation regime" by getting tougher on those who break the rules.

"We cannot stand by when Iran and North Korea reject the opportunities of peaceful, civil nuclear power and instead take steps to develop nuclear weapons in a way that threatens regional peace and security," he said.

"As evidence of [Iran's] breach of international agreements grows, we must now consider far tougher sanctions together."

Mr Brown later told the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson: "Iran is going to have to answer to the international community as to why it hasn't been complete straight with us about the nuclear weapons preparations.

"Iran can make a choice. It can be part of the international community... or it can be totally isolated and face sanctions."

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, but it has defied UN Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop the enrichment of uranium.

President Obama said the resolution was "not about singling out an individual nation", adding: "It is about standing up for the rights of all nations who do live up to their responsibilities."

The United Kingdom will retain only the absolute minimum credible nuclear deterrent capability
Gordon Brown

After the meeting, Iran released a statement saying it was ready "to engage in serious and constructive negotiations", but "futile and illegal demands" made of it should be abandoned.

"Our commitment to non-proliferation remains intact," it added.

Rift rumour

Mr Brown said the third element of the bargain was for nuclear arms states, like Britain and the US, to pursue active disarmament - with the ultimate aim of a world free from all nuclear weapons.

"I pledge that the United Kingdom will retain only the absolute minimum credible and continuing nuclear deterrent capability," he said.

He added that a cut in the submarine fleet was dependent on technical progress and suitable commitments from other nations.

Mr Brown's speech followed a day in which Number 10 and White House officials were forced to deny a rift between the prime minister and Mr Obama.



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