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Wed 24 Oct 2007 10:46 AM

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UK stokes flames in Iran sanctions battle

British PM Brown says UK prepared to consider sanctions, world at risk from Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

International pressure on Iran over the Islamic republic's refusal to halt its nuclear programme intensified on Tuesday as the UK joined the likes of France and the US in backing the call for further sanctions.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was prepared to consider more sanctions against Tehran and that the world was at risk from its nuclear ambitions.

"We are ready and will push for further sanctions against Iran," he told a news conference after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Iran's refusal to halt work that can be used to make fuel for power plants or, if it wants, material for warheads, has prompted the UN Security Council to impose two sets of sanctions.

Olmert said he supported the British stance and hoped the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana would echo the message when he met his new Iranian counterpart Saeed Jalili later on Tuesday.

"Economic sanctions are effective... but they are not sufficient. So there should be more," he told the same news conference.

He said the sanctions should reach the point "up to where Iran stops its nuclear programme".

The West suspects Iran of working to make its own atomic bomb and wants it to halt the nuclear programme. Tehran says its programme is peaceful and has vowed to go ahead with it.

"I think there is a new axis which hasn't been as powerful as it is now, with the United States, Great Britain, and France as its spearhead... to lead this campaign [against Iran] that is so crucial," Olmert said at a later meeting in London.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday his country would not retreat "one iota" from its nuclear programme.

Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani resigned on Saturday before talks in Rome due on Tuesday with Solana.

However, Larijani said on Tuesday a change in Iran's chief nuclear negotiator does not mean Tehran's atomic policy will change.

Accompanying his successor Jalili to Rome, Larijani dismissed reports of a change in Iran's nuclear policy.

"Iran's nuclear policies are stable and they don't change with a change in the secretary of the council or even presidents," he was reported as saying by Iran's state broadcaster.

Jalili also said the nuclear issue "is a subject on which there is a consensus in our country".

"Everybody... agrees with the trend [of Iran's nuclear issue] that has taken place so far," Jalili said in comments reported by Iran's official news agency IRNA.

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