Saturday, February 04, 2006

McCain Urges Iran Sanctions, Outside UN if Needed

U.S. Senator John McCain, a top member of President George W. Bush's Republican Party, urged the world on Saturday to impose economic and other sanctions on Iran, bypassing the United Nations if needed.

Welcoming the vote by the UN nuclear watchdog on Saturday to report Iran to the Security Council, McCain repeated that military action against Tehran must remain an option if it did not bow to international demands to halt its nuclear activities.

"Immediate UN Security Council action is required to impose multilateral sanctions, including a prohibition on investment, a travel ban, and asset freezes for government leaders and nuclear scientists," McCain told a security conference in Munich.

"Should Russia and China decline to join our peaceful efforts to resolve the nuclear issue, we should seek willing partners to impose these sanctions outside the UN framework." READ MORE

Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with the United States, Britain and France.

Washington, Europe and others believe the Islamic Republic is seeking to make the atomic bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is designed solely to generate electricity.

"Every option must remain on the table. There is only one thing worse than military action, that is a nuclear-armed Iran," said McCain, repeating comments made at last month's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He added however that military action was a "totally undesirable option" of last resort.

In a 27-3 vote on Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency's board opted to notify the Security Council on Iran.

No Council action, including sanctions, will be considered before a conclusive IAEA investigative report due next month.

McCain said Iran would be a key test of U.S.-Russia ties. Without singling out policies, he criticized the government of President Vladimir Putin for a lack of democracy and mooted a boycott of a Russia-hosted G8 summit this year.

"Under Mr Putin, Russia today is neither a democracy nor an economic power. I seriously question whether G8 leaders should attend the G8 summit," McCain said.