The New York Times - Britain will push for a worldwide ban on foreign investment in Iran’s oil and gas industry and other financial sanctions unless two reports due this month show that the Tehran government is ready to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.
The New York Times
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: November 13, 2007
LONDON, Nov. 12 — Britain will push for a worldwide ban on foreign investment in Iran’s oil and gas industry and other financial sanctions unless two reports due this month show that the Tehran government is ready to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.
In a speech setting out his government’s foreign policy agenda, Mr. Brown said Iran posed “the greatest immediate challenge” to the effort to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. He warned Iran that “it has a choice: confrontation with the international community leading to a tightening of sanctions, or, if it changes its approach and ends its support for terrorism, a transformed relationship with the world.”
At a meeting in London last week, the six-nation group monitoring Iran’s response to demands for an end to its uranium enrichment program — made up of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — agreed to consider a new round of United Nations sanctions on Iran if there was no early breakthrough on the issue. Two new reports on Iran’s compliance, one by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and another by Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are due before the end of the month.
“Unless positive outcomes” flow from the reports, Mr. Brown said, “we will lead in seeking tougher sanctions both at the U.N. and in the European Union, including on oil and gas investment and the financial sector. Iran should be in no doubt about our seriousness of purpose.”
The warning, the bluntest yet given by Britain, came in Mr. Brown’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, an annual event that British prime ministers traditionally use for major foreign policy addresses. In office for six months, Mr. Brown appeared eager to depict himself as a match in international affairs for his predecessor, Tony Blair, and in particular to answer critics who have predicted that Britain, under the Brown government, will be a less congenial partner for the United States than it was during Mr. Blair’s 10 years in office.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France visited Washington last week, a visit in which the French leader expressed his admiration for America and his intention to abandon years of estrangement between Paris and Washington. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany’s relationship with the United States has also warmed.
Mr. Brown seemed eager to regain lost ground. “It is no secret that I have been a lifelong admirer of the United States,” he said.
Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting from Washington.