Hasan Suroor

We are working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from the Security Council within the 30-day deadline

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday ruled out the likelihood of Iran complying with the 30-day deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for it to stop uranium enrichment, but said that despite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "belligerent'' statements there were signs that Teheran was "responding'' to international pressure.

"They have responded more than I think people see. For example, they were threatening total withdrawal from the operation of the inspectors that hasn't actually happened... .I think Iran is feeling some of the pressure, as well as its President making belligerent statements," Mr. Straw told the BBC.

He said Britain expected the issue to return to the Security Council after the April 28 deadline, and there would then be further discussions on what action to take against Iran. "We are working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from the Security Council within the 30-day deadline," he said. "But what is most likely to happen is that the matter will move back to the Security Council and there will then be discussions about the next steps which the international community will take.''

Mr. Straw's remarks were seen as more moderate than Prime Minister Tony Blair's angry rhetoric in the House of Commons on Wednesday when he accused Iran of financing international terrorism, and called for a "clear'' message to be sent to Teheran that it must "desist'' from going ahead with its controversial nuclear programme. Observers noted that while Mr. Straw has consistently ruled out military intervention in Iran describing it as "inconceivable,'' Mr. Blair on Wednesday refused to say whether he agreed with Mr. Straw's view and simply said "nobody is talking about a military invasion against Iran.''