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Govt backs sanctions against Iran on nuclear issues, but not Israel

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Eamon Gilmore ruled out Irish support of military action against Iran.

Inside the uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, Iran which processes uranium ore into gas for use in enrichment at a separate facility.
Inside the uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, Iran which processes uranium ore into gas for use in enrichment at a separate facility.
Image: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi/PA Images

THE TÁNAISTE AND Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore says that the government has no intention of pushing for sanctions against Israel over nuclear proliferation, but that the cabinet supports sanctions against Iran over its nuclear development programme.

Responding to questions from Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn in the Dáil this week, Gilmore said that “international community, including Ireland, the EU and the US, is united in the view that sanctions must be maintained” until Iran comprehensively addresses concerns raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency over its nuclear programme.

In a 2011 report, the IAEA voiced concerns over intelligence suggesting that Iran was developing nuclear weapons under that programme, and that it had already engaged in activities which could lead to the development of weapons.

However, asked if he would support military action (including the US or NATO use of Shannon Airport) against Iran over its nuclear activities, Gilmore said the cabinet supports negotiation, but “no other means”:

It is the firm conviction of this government, and its EU partners, that the grave and valid concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme must be resolved through diplomatic negotiations alone and by no other means.

He said the main aim of EU and US sanctions against Iran is to persuade the state to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme, and he hopes Iranian officials will attend a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference later this year.

Gilmore also said that he hopes Israel will attend that conference, but that Ireland is not considering sanctions against Israel over nuclear issues – and that such sanctions are unlikely to be pursued by the EU:

I have made clear that, like all previous Irish governments, the government does not support such sanctions, and further that there would be no possibility whatever of achieving an EU consensus in favour of such sanctions.

The Tánaiste said that Israel had never officially announced its possession of nuclear weapons and Ireland continues to push for it and the other states who have not signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty to do so. He added that the government considers the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East “as a particularly important objective”.

On Wednesday, the US assistant secretary of state Philip Gordon said that the US will continue to pursue it’s two-track police of sanctions and negotiations to urge Iran “to abide by its obligations to the international community” under the UN security council resolutions on nuclear enrichment in Iran.

Until that happens, Gordon said, the US is “determined to continue to rally international support to raise the costs on Iran for failing to abide by its obligations.”

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