Harder Line Urged Over Iran
July 13, 2004
Kuwait News Agency
LONDON -- "Why won't the Government stand up for Britain and say so?" Straw called on Ancram to produce a constructive alternative rather than þsimply raising the volume.
Are you proposing that we take military action against Iran or are you þproposing that we break off diplomatic relations with Iran? I don't happen to þthink that either of those are sensible", he said.
Hoon's statement also revealed that a deadline for Iran to return the þservicemen's equipment and weapons expired on June 29.
Two weeks later they still apparently have not been returned and yet the þsilence from the Government is deafening", Ancram continued.
I have to say your timidity on this matter is quite extraordinary". þOf course improving relations with Iran is important but not at any price".
Can't you see that a relationship based on giving in to aggression will þalways be suspect and that if Iran wants genuinely to lift the veil of suspicion that hangs over her she should be publicly pressed to apologise and þto return our equipment forthwith?''
Straw replied that the Government makes judgments about how best to maintain our relations on the basis of the best information available''.
Very occasionally the use of a megaphone and a rant, which seems to be your approach, might be appropriate. However, I think that on this occasion neither a megaphone or a rant is going to secure the return of these boats and equipment".
We oppose and deplore the masking of the service personnel but as a result of the diplomatic relations we have with Iran we were able to get that crew returned very quickly indeed", he said.
Britain was pursuing a policy of constructive but conditional engagement'' with Iran, the Foreign Secretary added.
We aim to support Iranian efforts to reform while making clear our concerns about Iran's policies in areas such as its nuclear programme, human rights and its attitude to the Middle East peace process", he said.
The Shatt al-Arab incident came against a background of already strained þdiplomatic relations between Britain and Iran.
Iranians were angered when Britain helped draft a critical resolution at the International Atomic Energy Authority, condemning Tehran's refusal to open up its nuclear programme to international inspections.
Britain is only concerned about receiving Iran's oil.