- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Britain and the United States both want to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday as he warned Iran it faces harsher penalties if it continues attempts to develop a bomb.

Brown told a conference in London that he and U.S. President Barack Obama hope to gradually disarm nuclear nations, and to prevent rogue countries or terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“I know from President Obama and the new U.S. administration that America shares with us the ultimate ambition of a world free from nuclear weapons,” Brown said in his speech to delegates. “But let me be clear this will be a difficult path that will be crossed in steps _ not in one leap.”

Brown said that, if the U.S. and Russia agree to new reductions to their nuclear stockpiles, Britain will also reduce its nuclear arsenal.

Britain has already reduced its warheads from 200 to 160, but Brown said he is prepared to go further. But he has authorized a 20 billion-pound ($30 billion) program to replace Britain’s four nuclear-armed submarines with new vessels.

“Step by step, we have to transform the discussion of nuclear disarmament from one of platitudes to one of hard commitments,” Brown said.

He also urged Iran to take up Obama’s offer of dialogue, saying Iran faces tougher, more easily implemented sanctions if it fails to respond to international concern over its uranium enrichment program.

Iran insists the program is part of a peaceful civilian energy program. The U.S. and other countries claim Iran is enriching uranium to develop nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s current nuclear program is unacceptable. Iran has concealed nuclear activities, refused to cooperate with the IAEA, and flouted U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” Brown said. “Its refusal to play by the rules leads us to view its nuclear program as a critical proliferation threat.”

He suggested the sanctions regime needs to be redesigned.

Punishments imposed by the U.N. currently have to be negotiated at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China often block tough action. Brown suggested sanctions should be tightened automatically each time Iran contravenes U.N.

“It should be assumed that sanctions will be imposed in response to anything other than the most minor of breaches,” Brown said.

He said the threat of stronger punishment complements Obama’s call for talks _ showing that Iran faces a clear choice between isolation and new dialogue.

The Obama administration has raised the prospect of talks with Iran, but the offer has met a mixed response from the Islamic Republic. Sanctions have also failed to slow Iran’s nuclear activities: U.S. and Israeli officials believe the country has enough fissile material to produce an atomic bomb.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide