Put to the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) that the Prime Minister had said that he would be consulting allies regarding Iran, and was there anything further to be added, the PMOS said that first of all, we regarded Kofi Annan’s statement as very useful in this regard. The PMOS said it was a mistake to see this as the UK versus Iran; it was simply not like that. The EU statement yesterday was completely unanimous and it was a very strong statement from the EU. That was backed up by comments from President Chirac, amongst others, at Hampton Court, and we then had the Kofi Annan statement. There were ongoing discussions at the UN about what the next step should be, so what was important was that we allowed those discussions to take place, before taking a lead from there. The PMOS said that the world community had said that the comments were unacceptable.
Asked if we were looking for Iran to be expelled from the UN, the PMOS replied that it was important for the UN to collectively state its view as to what should happen next. Kofi Annan had said that he was going to Iran in the next few weeks, but as Kofi Annan said yesterday, it was incompatible for a member of the UN under the UN Charter to call for another country who was a member of the UN to be wiped out.
Asked if there would be scope for this to be brought up at the Security Council, the PMOS said it depended on what the collective view was at the UN. The PMOS said it might be discussed at some point at the Security Council, but it was really a matter for the UN.
Asked if there was any scope for the UK and their allies to consider any action against Iran, the PMOS said he thought the journalist was trying to take him down a hypothetical route, but he was not going to go there! What the Prime Minister had said yesterday was the danger that Iran thought that the rest of the world was diverted in some way to what it was doing, and therefore would make the wrong decisions, based on that view. As the Prime Minister said last night, the rest of the world was not diverted, and the response of other world leaders and the UN had underlined that point. The discussions that had taken place at the UN illustrated that point very well. The PMOS said we were already in discussions with partners about Iran’s nuclear obligations, and there was already a process underway which would continue. These latest comments would be discussed.
Asked if this had been discussed with Washington over the past twenty four hours, the PMOS stressed that this should not be seen as simply a matter of the UK or the UK and US versus Iran, and it was wrong to characterise it as such. The PMOS said, however, that we had been in active touch with all our allies at the UN, and certainly, we had had no experience of people not being focused on this issue.
Asked if the Prime Minister was likely to discuss this matter over the weekend with President Bush, the PMOS replied that as the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, he had been focused on the problems surrounding Iran, not just in terms of the recent comments, but overall for some time. The issue had been one part of continuing conversations with the US for some time, but also with others as well. The PMOS reminded people that the E3 was active as well, so this had been a matter of continued conversation with a range of allies for a while, and that continued to be the case. The PMOS said he was not aware of any plans for a specific conversation with the President over the weekend, but people knew where everyone was on the issue.
Asked again if the Prime Minister was going to be in touch with the allied countries over the next few days, the PMOS replied that last night, there had already active discussions at the UN about this issue, and those discussions would continue today. The PMOS reminded people again that Kofi Annan had said that he would visit Iran in the next few weeks. This was not an issue that would come to a head in a day or so; rather it was something that would take time and patience. What Iran should not have any doubt about, however, was the issue would be addressed because people were very concerned.
Asked if we thought it was a concession too far to say that the use of force was "inconceivable", the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had said last night, the question that people used to be asking whether we were going to jump to an immediate response. The question now was, are we going to do something about it, and the answer was: yes. The UN was in place to address that today, and that was what we were going to do.
Asked if military action did ever happen, would it be through the UN, or would it be a unilateral decision, the PMOS said it was better to concentrate on today and the coming weeks. That needed diplomacy. Kofi Annan had said he was going to Iran, and that was very important. Therefore, what we should do was let that process unwind, and wait and see what came out of the UN later today.
Briefing took place at 8:00 | Search for related news
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