04 February 2010
The Australian government has blocked three shipments to Iran because of fears that the contents could be for Tehran's nuclear program. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on ‘ABC Radio' that his Defense Minister John Faulkner had used powers under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act to block the shipments from leaving the port. However, he did not say when this happened or what the cargo consisted of.
Rudd said continuing strong international pressure on Tehran was essential. "If you look at the threat to regional and global peace which Iran poses in its current nuclear weapons program, there is no alternative other than robust international action including in areas such as this," he said during the interview, adding: "We believe that national security, the national security interests of Australia, also demand this course of action.” Australia had acted "because we believe we must play the role of a responsible international citizen".
The newspaper 'The Australian' reported that the blocked shipments were understood to include pumps that could have been used to cool nuclear power plants. The report said there were up to three other shipments but that no further details were known.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Obama administration circulated a paper among the Group of Six Nations regarding further UN sanctions on Iran. Washington urged Tehran to follow up on a pledge made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday that his government was prepared to send uranium abroad for further enrichment.
The White House also called the launch of an Iranian long-range rocket on Wednesday, which was carrying live animals, “a provocative act”. However, White House spokesman Bill Burton said that President Obama still believed that it was “not too late for Iran to do the right thing, come to the table with the international community, and live up to its international obligations.”
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