Australia has joined the EU in banning imports of Iranian oil and imposing a range of heavy sanctions amid threats of retaliatory military action by Tehran.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Australian government was deeply concerned by the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, in which Tehran has threatened to blockade the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz.
Speaking shortly before he and Defence Minister Stephen Smith attended a meeting of the British cabinet’s national security council, the Foreign Minister said Australia felt compelled to act.
“As far as European Union sanctions against Iran are concerned, those concerning oil and other measures, I would confirm today that the government of Australia formally and fully supports the range of these sanctions which have been announced (on Monday) in Brussels.
“We in Australia will undertake precisely the same parallel action for Australia.
We believe this is the right course of action. We believe that for the simple reason that the Iranian nuclear program is fundamentally destabilising not just for wider Middle East and the Gulf states but also for the wider world . . . The message needs to be delivered to the people of Iran, the wider political elites of Iran as well as the government of Iran that their behaviour is globally unacceptable.”
Mr Rudd said Australia’s trade with Iran had already dwindled because of past Australian sanctions. “The material impact of sanctions taken to date by Australia in relation to Iran (is that) our exports to Iran have declined massively in recent times, so this is not a piece of idle philanthropy on the part of Australian foreign policy. This costs, but it is a cost worth paying.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the latest sanctions against Iranian oil exports and moves against the Iranian central bank were “a significant increase and a major increase in the peaceful legitimate pressure on the Iranian government to return to negotiations over its nuclear program”.
“Until it does so, the pressure will only increase and Britain and Australia share the same sense of resolve about that,” he said.
After wide-ranging talks on diplomatic, economic and defence issues, Mr Rudd expressed confidence about the European and British economies amid fears that the euro crisis could plunge the world into a depression.
“We in Australia believe that we should be confident about Europe’s economic future,” he said. “As a visitor to this continent, I often find people disappearing into tunnels of despair.
“Europe, we believe, has a robust economic future and the current difficulties can be overcome.”
Source: The Australian