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Iran-UK: Iran must obey rules on nuclear program: Blair

Tony BlairReuters, October 11 – Iran must obey international rules over its nuclear program and should not doubt the will of the international community to ensure it does so, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday.

Blair, due to hold talks on Iran soon with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Britain and the United States would continue to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities, which Washington says — and Iran denies — are a cover for making atomic bombs.

"The position of Europe and America has been the same on this. We will continue the pressure," Blair told a news conference.

"They have to abide by the rules of the international community on their nuclear capability. They have to stop support for terrorism, whether it’s in the Middle East or elsewhere."

"I think they would make a great mistake if they thought the international community lacked the will to make sure that is done," he added.

Washington and the EU have prepared the way for the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send Iran to the United Nations Security Council next month for possible sanctions for violating international obligations.

Blair said Britain was "concerned" about the situation in Iran and said a recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear activities was "very significant."

Rice is expected to be in Paris on Friday and London at the weekend in a bid to hammer out a joint strategy for curbing Iran’s suspected nuclear arms programs and persuading Tehran to resume negotiations.

Britain, France and Germany led negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program but talks collapsed in August. Iran insists its nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes.

"We’ll pursue those discussions, but it has to be on the basis that people live up to their obligations under the IAEA rules," Blair said. "Nothing less than full obedience to the rules is acceptable."

British-Iranian relations were further strained recently when an unnamed senior British official said London believed Iran had given insurgents in Iraq armor-piercing explosives and infra-red devices used to kill British troops there.

Blair said evidence pointed to Iran or its Lebanese Hizbollah allies as the source of the explosives but said Britain did not have proof.