Brown's Knesset stand against 'abhorrent' Ahmadinejad

Other News Materials 21 July 2008 07:05 (UTC +04:00)

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was to attack the Iranian president's "abhorrent" threats towards Israel and threaten further sanctions on Tehran in a key speech to the Knesset on Monday, AFP reported.

In the first address to the Israeli parliament by a British premier, Brown was to spell out that Britain stood alongside Israel when in danger and ratchet up the pressure on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

Brown was to warn Tehran it faced growing isolation and a collective international response if it did not comply with UN demands over its uranium enrichment activities - which Israel fears will be used for a nuclear weapon.

Sanctions could be slapped on the oil and gas sectors to hit the domestic Iranian market.

"To those who question Israel's very right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror, we say: the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security," Brown was to say, according to excerpts released in advance.

"And to those who believe that threatening statements fall upon indifferent ears, we say in one voice that it is totally abhorrent for the president of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map of the world."

The stand was to come the day after Brown visited Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the six million Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.

"I promise that just as we have led the work on three mandatory sanctions resolutions of the UN, the UK will continue to lead - with the United States and our European Union partners - in our determination to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons programme," Brown was to say.

"The EU has gone beyond each of these resolutions. Last month we took action against an Iranian bank involved in proliferation.

"And Iran now has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response not of one nation but of many nations."

The prime minister's spokesman said Brown did not rule out "extended sanctions in some form on the oil and gas sector".

Sources said that could involve sanctions on the constant flow of spare parts for Tehran's fairly limited domestic oil refining capacity, to have an impact within Iran.

Brown's spokesman said: "We should rule nothing out at this point, as he has always made clear, but our focus at the moment is on strengthening the sanctions regime to keep up the pressure on Iran."

In his speech, Brown was to praise Israel's achievements in the 60 years since the state's creation.

"To have achieved all this in the face of the war, the terror, the violence, the threats, the intimidation and the security is truly monumental," he was to say.

"Britain and Israel continue to stand together in believing that history sides with those who fight for liberty - and if the great conflict of ideas of the 21st century is between those who believe in closed societies who would turn back the clock of progress and those who believe in open societies, then we are together on the side of openness.

"Let me tell the people of Israel today: Britain is your true friend.

"A friend in difficult times as well as in good times, a friend who will stand beside you whenever your peace, your stability and your existence are under threat; a friend who shares an unbreakable partnership based on shared values of liberty, democracy and justice.

"And I am proud to say for the whole of my life, I have counted myself a friend of your country."

Brown was making his first visit to Israel and the West Bank since becoming prime minister last June.

His trip is focused on giving momentum to the Middle East peace process and boosting investment in the Palestinian territories to kick-start the economy there.