Sanctions possible after Iranian nuclear announcement

By Alex Stevenson

The Foreign Office has called Iran’s decision to begin enriching higher-grade nuclear fuel from tomorrow “deeply worrying”.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that Tehran had decided to enrich uranium to 20% in a highly publicised televised event.

It followed the British government warning last night that doing so would see it in breach of five UN security resolutions.

“These latest statements by Iran are deeply worrying,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“Contrary to Iranian assertions, this enriched uranium could not be used for the Tehran Research Reactor as Iran does not have the technology to manufacture it into fuel rods.

“Instead, enriching to 20% would just add to the catalogue of concerns about a nuclear programme with no civilian application, in a country building nuclear facilities in secret and refusing to answer IAEA questions about weapons related activity.

“It is time for Iran to move away from contradictory rhetoric and to start engaging with the IAEA and the international community. Iran needs to address the legitimate concerns about its programme and to start restoring trust in its intentions.”

Earlier this afternoon US secretary of defence Robert Gates said the international community was left with no option but to step up sanctions against Iran.

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw commented on dealing with Iran during his evidence session to the Iraq inquiry this afternoon.

“What you have to remember about the way the Iranian administration deals with things is it rarely has a single objective,” he said.

“It’s a very complicated system to deal with – it’s the same when you try to negotiate with them.”

Iranian representatives failed to attend last month’s international conference in London on the future of Afghanistan.