The UK is considering further sanctions on Iran after a UN nuclear agency report ‘discredited’ claims its nuclear programme is peaceful.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research to that end. Iran rejected the IAEA report as politically motivated and said it was ready for negotiations, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Hague said Britain, one of six powers that have been handling the nuclear dispute with Iran, wanted a negotiated solution and was not advocating military action, but he said no option had been taken off the table.
"We are entering a more dangerous phase ... The longer Iran goes on pursuing a nuclear weapons programme without responding adequately to calls for negotiations from the rest of us, the greater the risk of a conflict as a result," Hague told parliament.
He said the UK was prepared to have further talks but “only if Iran is prepared to engage in serious negotiations about its nuclear programme without preconditions".
As well as talking to allies about further sanctions, Britain was considering further unilateral measures if Iran failed to "comply with (its) responsibilities", he said. "We are looking at additional measures against the Iranian financial sector, the oil and gas sector, and the designation (on a sanctions list) of further entities and individuals involved with their nuclear programme.”
Hague did not say in which forum Britain would seek more sanctions. But he recognised the difficulty of gaining agreement on more UN Security Council sanctions given likely Russian and Chinese resistance. However, he said there "will be a strong case for further discussions at the UN".