Initiatives by the South African Government with regard to the USA's threatened Military Action against Iran

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 10

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER 3 DATED 20 FEBRUARY 2007

Mr M Ramgobin (ANC) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Whether, with regard to the USA's threatened military action against Iran, any initiatives have been taken by the Government in this regard; if not, why not; if so, what initiatives?N213E

REPLY:

Yes.

Whilst noting the military build-up in the Gulf, the Government is not aware of any imminent unilateral military action being taken against Iran. South Africa supports the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and has consistently reiterated its view at the relevant international fora that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is central to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. For South Africa, the Agency remains the sole internationally recognized competent authority responsible for verifying and assuring compliance with safeguards agreements, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, in accordance with its Statute and safeguards system. The Agency's verification work in Iran is ongoing and South Africa is firmly of the view that this matter can be resolved within the framework of the Agency, provided that the Agency receives the necessary co-operation and support to clarify all outstanding issues related to the implementation of Iran's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards obligations.

In all international fora South Africa will continue to encourage ongoing dialogue and a peaceful resolution of this issue. The world cannot afford the further escalation of conflict in the Middle East region and South Africa will continue to work with all parties in an effort to resolve this issue in a sustainable manner. In resolving the tensions surrounding Iran's peaceful nuclear programme and to avoid a confrontation, South Africa believes that it is important to work for an inclusive and sustainable negotiated agreement that respects the legitimate sovereign interest of all the parties concerned, as well as the imperative of reducing regional and global conflicts and tensions.

The Government will continue to encourage all initiatives aimed at restoring confidence in Iran's peaceful nuclear programme, which is critical in normalising the situation.

While South Africa remains strongly committed to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to their elimination, we are concerned at certain unilateralist and militarist tendencies.

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