Saturday, November 06, 2004

U.S. attack on Iran 'inconceivable': Jack Straw

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U.S. attack on Iran 'inconceivable': Jack Straw


LONDON (AFP) -- British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Thursday it was "inconceivable" that the United States would attack Iran over its nuclear program and that the world would back such action.

"I don't see any circumstances in which military action would be justified against Iran full stop," Straw told BBC radio amid speculation that reelected U.S. President George W. Bush may be more hawkish over the Islamic republic. Asked if the world would support a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran, Straw said: "Not only is that inconceivable, but I think the prospect of it (U.S. military action) happening is inconceivable."

"The United States government has operated internationally and with international cooperation in respect of Iran," he said.

The international community was committed to resolving the situation "constructively", he added.

He was speaking as Iranian and EU representatives, led by Britain, France and Germany, continued talks in Paris aimed at breaking a deadlock with Iran on suspending uranium enrichment.

The European nations have so far, in talks that started in October, said Iran must indefinitely suspend uranium enrichment, but Tehran insists that its right to enrichment cannot be called into question by an indefinite suspension.

Europe's three major powers are offering Iran nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns if the Islamic Republic halts enrichment.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also played down speculation that the United States may be planning military action. "I have never heard a discussion of some invasion of Iran," he told the Times newspaper published on Friday. "Iran is not Iraq and there are different ways of dealing with these problems."

Straw's predecessor, Robin Cook, said on Wednesday that those in the Bush administration who pressed for invasion of Iraq were now lobbying for action against Iran. -EU presidency rejects talk of military strikes on Iran

The European Union's Dutch presidency also dismissed Thursday speculation about a U.S. military strike on Iran to force the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear drive.

Referring to suggestions that some in the United States want to attack Iran, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said "not all people in Washington" endorsed this.

"I don't think we're thinking of military strikes. I think that would be counter-productive," he told reporters at a two-day EU summit that debated Iran among other international issues.

Ahead of fresh talks on the nuclear issue between Iran and the EU in Paris on Friday, Bot said the EU had "clear indications" that the Iranian government wants to pursue dialogue.

"It is more helpful to continue the dialogue and to convince the Iranians that there are other means if you want to have a nuclear program," he said, noting a Russian offer of enriched uranium for peaceful atomic energy in Iran.

Bot later told a news conference that the EU could dangle a "carrot" in the form of a trade agreement long sought by Iran.

"The stick, that's the UN Security Council," he warned."

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