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Prime Minister Gordon Brown pre-G8 summit briefing, 8 July 2009

Pre-G8 press conference, A transcript of a press conference given by the Prime Minister in London on 6 July ahead of the G8 meeting, 8 Downing Street website, Excerpts.


Iran's obviously going to be on the table tomorrow in the G8 summit. Joe Biden suggested yesterday that the US will not stop Israel if they want to bomb Iran, if they think Iran is starting to be dangerous again. Where is the UK going to stand here? Are you going to back up the US, or are you going to stay with your European allies?

Prime Minister:

Let me just be clear that I think the White House said this morning that the talk was about hypothetical questions. Look, we do not believe that Iran should break with its agreement under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, in other words its agreement that it did not need nuclear weapons. We still believe that by a process of negotiation, it is possible to persuade the Iranian people that if they want civil nuclear power, and remain part of the world's debate about that and the use of that, then they should maintain the position of the past, that they would renounce nuclear weapons. We still believe that the process of work that involves Russia and China and America and the European Union is something that should be invested in to yield results.

We regret what has happened in Iran to British citizens and to those who work for our embassy in Iran. It is for the Iranian people to decide the results of their election, not for any outside body or outside force. That's a matter for the Iranian people. But to arrest British diplomats, or to detain people who are working for our embassy, without justification is not acceptable and so we continue to ask for the support of the international community that those people who are unjustifiably detained should be released. But I still believe that the process that is at work in the world community to persuade Iran to hold to its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is an important process that we are still working through.


Acknowledging the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad; are you willing to do that now?

Prime Minister:

I think we have carried out negotiations with Iran over a period of time and we have determined that we continue to work with our other colleagues, and that is America and Europe, in the international arena to yield the results that are best for the world...


I would like to ask you about North Korea and this part where because of the UN resolution, the North Korean regime are more eager to have the nuclear weapons and give no more accord of negotiation. It is quite certain that they have the intention to have nuclear weapons. So what you can do to that?

Prime Minister:

Well, there was a time when there were only five powers with nuclear weapons. It's now almost double as many powers have nuclear weapons. We are about to start negotiations for a renewed and strengthened non-proliferation treaty. We have to be clear about our offer to the rest of the world that nuclear powers are prepared to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons. As we have seen today, and I applaud, the decision made by President Medvedev and President Obama to reduce the number of nuclear weapons that Russia and America have, but at the same time, we ought to be prepared to offer non-nuclear powers access to civil nuclear power on conditions that allow them to have the energy needs they have met, while at the same time it doesn't proliferate nuclear weapons.

Now, as far as North Korea is concerned, we've made it absolutely clear where we stand on North Korea, about its attempt to both test and possess nuclear weapons. We think, with the rest of the international community, and that includes the Americans, the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese, that this is not acceptable. But we continue to seek a renewed and strengthened non-proliferation treaty that will stop the proliferations, but offer, at the same time, that existing nuclear powers will reduce their weapons, while at the same time we offer to the rest of the world that is non-nuclear access to civil power. Now, that seems to me the makings of a better bargain, a better nuclear bargain, than has existed in the past, and I hope that non-nuclear states that are not legally nuclear states will be prepared to take that up...

Source: Number 10 Downing Street website, www.number10.gov.uk.

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