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Coonan urges continued pressure on Iran.

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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Helen Coonan has this afternoon extended Coalition support for the expansion of bilateral sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran’s continued failure to adhere to United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“The Coalition opposes proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Senator Coonan said.

“In Government, we supported the United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iran to open its program to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency with the intent of halting what we assessed was a nuclear weapons program.

“The international community has sent many unambiguous messages to Iran that it must fulfil its international obligations and to stop uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

“International coordination of responses is vital. By meeting the level of European Union sanctions, Australia is playing its part.

“Australia should keep up its pressure on Iran over failing to adhere to UNSC resolutions, not agreeing to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s requirements for inspections of all facilities and full clarification of Tehran’s nuclear policy.

“The Coalition considers that Iran remains committed to its indigenous development of nuclear energy and that its strategy may also extend to the development of nuclear weapons. Proliferation of nuclear weapons is a grave threat to the stability of world order.

“Iran’s commitment under its current and previous leaders to develop nuclear energy and intent to maintain a weapons option looks likely to continue.

“Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and its increasing need for energy, must be acknowledged,” Senator Coonan said.

Senator Coonan said that the IAEA’s September report noted that it was monitoring nuclear material under enrichment in Iran but that Iran had not agreed to provide explanation about studies to weaponise nuclear material.

“We urge the Rudd Labor Government to take into full consideration the IAEA’s view, as the authorised UN agency treating technical and operational aspects of nuclear issues, that Iran remains committed to enrichment. This is not likely to be reversed and pursuit of non-proliferation inspections and verification regime must be part of future international responses to Iran’s activity,” Senator Coonan said.

On a separate issue, the Coalition also strongly condemns the statement made by President Ahmadinejad in his address to the UN Assembly.

Despite comments made in Opposition, the Labor Government has now obtained legal advice that initiating legal action is not likely to be successful.

“I urge the Rudd Labor Government to remain vigilant in strongly condemning and standing up against abhorrent anti-Semitic comments whenever they are made,” Senator Coonan said.