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US must be in deal on Iran's nuclear program, says UK's Straw

London, Mar 2, IRNA -- The US must be included in an agreement on the verification of Iran's nuclear program, UK's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has confirmed for the first time.

"I accept that in addition to the E3 - France, Germany and the United Kingdom - we must involve all the other partner members of the IAEA board of governors," Straw told MPs on Tuesday.

These, he said, include the Russian Federation and "especially the United States." He also looked forward to the "collaboration and cooperation with the US Government in respect of Iran - as in respect of so many other issues - continuing."

The foreign secretary was asked by Conservative member of the parliamentary Defence Committee Richard Ottaway, whether he accepted that "it is not just the E3 who must be satisfied with verification, but the United States."

Straw played down Israeli allegations claiming that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within six months, saying that he had "seen those reports but not their provenance."

"Our discussions with the Iranians are based on their failure to make disclosures in accordance with their safeguards agreement under the non-proliferation treaty," he said.

"There is no concrete evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons; let me make that clear to the House (of Commons," the Foreign Secretary emphasized.

He also rejected a question from Labour MP Llew Smith asking whether the British government was "guilty of double standards if we continue to lecture Iran on meeting its obligations under the non- proliferation treaty while failing to meet our own obligations."

"The factual basis of his question is simply wrong," Straw insisted. He said that the UK had "taken more steps" towards full- scale nuclear disarmament than any of the other permanent members of the Security Council - the so-called 'nuclear weapons states.'

During Foreign Affairs questions, he also accepted that Iran has legitimate security concerns. "Security has been one of the aspects of the discussions that have followed the Paris agreement in November," he said.

But none of the concerns "would justify its acquisition of nuclear weapons, which would make the security of the whole region, including Iran, significantly worse, not better," the Foreign Secretary told MPs.

Asked whether Iran would have to be a player within a regional security framework, he argued that Tehran had to take steps itself, emphasizing his recent new call on Iran to recognize Israel

"One of the most important measures that it could take to improve the security of the whole region would be to accept a two-state solution in respect of Israel and Palestine and to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, as required by UN Security Council resolutions," Straw said.

... Payvand News - 3/2/05 ... --

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