The world must find ways to help non-nuclear states access civilian nuclear power to meet energy needs and tackle the growing threat of climate change, Prime Minister Gordon Brown will say on Tuesday.
Brown will say Iran -- which he calls a “critical proliferation threat” -- is key in proving whether nuclear producers and non-producers can peacefully share enriched uranium to power their economies as the world tries to wean itself off fossil fuels.
“We have to create a new international system to help non-nuclear states acquire the new sources of energy they need,” Brown will say, according to extracts from a speech he will give to a nuclear conference in London. “Because, whether we like it or not, we will not meet the challenges of climate change without the far wider use of civil nuclear power.”
Six world powers have offered Iran civilian nuclear cooperation as part of a package of incentives designed to persuade Tehran to give up uranium enrichment, which the West fears is directed at building a nuclear bomb.
Iran says it only wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes and has pledged to press on with its program.
Under a new nuclear strategy set out last month, Britain proposed helping states which wanted to develop a civil nuclear energy industry -- and tougher measures to stop more states getting nuclear weapons.
Brown favors a “uranium enrichment bond” whereby nuclear producers pledge a supply of enriched uranium subject to agreed safeguards. In return, supply could not be withdrawn simply for political reasons.
The International Energy Agency has said 32 nuclear plants would need to be built each year as part of steps to halve global carbon emissions by 2050 -- a climate change “vision” agreed by industrialized nations last year.
“Iran is a test case for this new philosophy of the right to civil nuclear power with sanctions for rule breakers,” Brown will say. “Iran has the same absolute right to a peaceful nuclear program as any other country.”
“But ... Iran’s current nuclear program is unacceptable. Its refusal to play by the rules leads us to view its nuclear program as a critical proliferation threat.”
“I hope Iran will make the right choice and take advantage of the international community’s willingness to negotiate, including (US) President Obama’s offer of engagement, rather than face further sanctions and regional instability,” Brown will say.
Obama has said the United States would be prepared to extend a hand of peace to Iran if it “unclenched its fist.” Iran has said it is open to talks with Washington but requires a big change in US policy in the Middle East. (Reuters)