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Embassy Function (Incident)

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 December 2005, Official Report, column 1388W, on damages, what the nature was of the incident that led to burns sustained at an embassy function. [40859]

Mr. Straw: The incident took place at a barbecue. Lighter fuel was spilled accidentally, ignited and burned the legs of a guest at the function.

Energy Supplies (Russia)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the occasions in the past 12 months on which Ministers in his Department have met representatives of the Russian Government to discuss the security of energy supply to the United Kingdom and EU. [41629]

Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 12 January 2006]: On 4 October 2005, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took part in bilateral discussions in London with President Putin and senior members of his government during which a substantial exchange on energy security issues took place. The energy sector formed an important part of the EU engagement with Russia under the UK Presidency. This was most prominent in discussions held during the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council on 3 October 2005, co-chaired by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and also on 4 October during the EU- Russia Summit, hosted by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Energy security will also be a key theme for the Russian G8 Presidency during 2006 and in preparation for this, senior FCO officials met with Russian counterparts in September 2005 in Moscow for economic talks which included discussion of energy supply issues.

EU Military and Policing Operations

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what EU (a) military and (b) policing operations in countries outside the EU (i) are under way, (ii) are planned and (iii) have been carried out since 1997. [40940]

Mr. Straw: Since 1997 the European Union has conducted three military operations under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP): Operation Concordia in Macedonia (March-December 2003), Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (June-September 2003) and Operation Althea in Bosnia, which was launched in December 2004 and is ongoing. At this moment there are no additional EU military operations being planned.

There have been five ESDP civilian policing missions: the EU Police Mission in Bosnia (January 2003 to present); EUPOL Proxima in Macedonia (December 2003 to December 2005); the EU Police Advisory Team in Macedonia (December 2005 to present); EUPOL Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (April 2005 to present); and EUPOL COPPS, the EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories. This last was launched on 1 January 2006 and is building on the work of the UK-led EU Coordination Office for Palestinian
 
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Policing Support. Current discussions about the EU's future role in Kosovo have included the possibility of a policing contribution.

There is a range of other ESDP missions currently active covering security sector reform, rule of law, ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring. The EU can also provide support, including military and police resources, to another international organisation, as it is currently doing for the African Union Mission in Sudan operation in Darfur.

Further details on all ESDP missions can be found on the FCO's website at:

Hamas/Interpal

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether there are links between Hamas and Interpal; and if he will make a statement. [42089]

Dr. Howells: The Charity Commission has investigated Interpal on several occasions regarding their links with Hamas. They have found insufficient evidence to support taking action against Interpal.

Iran

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has received that Iran is removing control seals from nuclear installations. [41830]

Dr. Howells: On 10 January, inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had started to remove IAEA seals on enrichment-related equipment and material at its enrichment facility in Natanz. The IAEA expected the removal of seals at Natanz and at two related storage and testing locations to be completed by 11 January.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in securing the return from Iran of the naval and military equipment seized by them in the Shatt-al Arab. [42048]

Dr. Howells: We have raised the return of boats and equipment with the Iranian authorities on numerous occasions, at both Ministerial and senior official level, in Tehran and London. The British Ambassador in Tehran did so most recently on 12 December. Our discussions are continuing.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of Iran's progress towards ratifying the Additional Protocol; and if he will make a statement. [42507]

Dr. Howells: In the 'Tehran Statement' of 12 October 2003, Iran agreed to sign an additional protocol to its Safeguards Agreement, and to commence ratification procedures. It further stated that
 
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Iran signed the Additional Protocol on 18 December 2003. In the Paris Agreement of 15 November 2004, Iran again reaffirmed that it would

Iran has not yet ratified the Protocol. In its most recent resolution on 24 September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors urged Iran

and

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the progress made in the construction of the heavy water research reactor at Arak in Iran; and if he will make a statement. [42508]

Dr. Howells: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Dr. Mohammed El Baradei confirmed in his November 2005 report that the Agency had carried out a design information verification visit to Arak and noted that the civil engineering construction of the reactor building was continuing. In declarations to the IAEA, the Iranian government has stated that the facility should be ready for commissioning in 2014. We are not aware of any change to this timescale.

We have made clear to the Iranians our concerns that this reactor design is not best suited to their declared research needs, but presents significant proliferation concerns in respect of its suitability for the production of weapons grade plutonium. This is why we have suggested to Iran for some time that it should acquire instead a research reactor moderated by light water. We made clear in our comprehensive proposal presented on 5 August 2005 that we would support them in doing this.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the return of British military equipment confiscated by Iran in the summer of 2004 was last raised by the UK Government's representative in Tehran; and what the result was of that discussion. [42509]

Dr. Howells: We have raised the return of boats and equipment with the Iranian authorities on numerous occasions, at both Ministerial and senior official level, in Tehran and London. The British Ambassador in Tehran did so most recently on 12 December 2005. Our discussions are continuing.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the stage that has been achieved by the Iranian government in the development of nuclear weapons technology; and if he will make a statement. [42510]

Dr. Howells: Iran is seeking to master enrichment technology. This would give it the capability to produce nuclear weapons grade enriched uranium. Iran's recent notification that it intends to resume research and development activity, including the introduction of
 
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nuclear material into enrichment centrifuges, is contrary to the calls expressed in repeated International Atomic Energy Agency Board resolutions and to Iran's own undertakings, and does nothing to resolve longstanding international concerns over Iranian government intentions.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Thurrock of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 193W, on Iran, when he expects the explanatory meeting between Iran and the EU scheduled for 2006 to take place; and if he will make a statement. [42717]

Dr. Howells: The E3/EU held exploratory talks with Iran on 21 December aimed at establishing whether a basis could be agreed for resuming negotiations on long-term arrangements for Iran's nuclear programme. We made crystal clear that a resumption of negotiations would only be possible if Iran refrained from any further erosion of its suspension of enrichment related and reprocessing activities, including research and development on enrichment.

Iran's decision to restart enrichment related activity on 9 January was a clear rejection of the diplomatic process the E3/EU and Iran have been engaged in for over two years with the support of the international community. In addition, it constitutes a further challenge to the authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and international community. We have, therefore, decided to inform the IAEA Board of Governors that our discussions with Iran have reached an impasse.


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