Friday, April 28, 2006

McCain warns Russia, China on Iran

A leading U.S. senator warned Russia and China on Friday of damage to their relationship with the United States if they refused to go along with sanctions against Iran.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona told a Brussels conference that Iran's nuclear program posed the greatest security threat to the world alongside terrorism.

The U.N. Security Council should impose sanctions including an investment ban, a travel ban and asset freezes on government leaders and nuclear scientists, McCain said.

Asked what consequences there would be if Moscow and Beijing blocked such a move, he told reporters: "Clearly it's going to affect many areas of cooperation between our two countries.

"There will be a reaction in the U.S. Congress." READ MORE

McCain, a potential White House contender in 2008, said he could not be specific that the areas affected could include trade.

The world's nuclear watchdog said on Friday Iran had flouted a U.N. Security Council call to suspend uranium enrichment and was speeding up its program instead, spurring Western powers to urge tougher U.N. action.

President Bush said he wanted peaceful persuasion to prevail. Iran's president has vowed to spurn any U.N. resolution to stop its professed quest for fuel for atomic power stations — a front for bomb-making in Western eyes.

McCain said the United States must not rule out military action against Iran as a last resort, saying: There's only one thing worse than military action and that's a nuclear-armed Iran."

McCain did not rule out the possibility of direct U.S. talks with Tehran or Washington's involvement in multilateral negotiations with Iran.

He said Bush had made clear he would explore every possible option and that could include "six-party talks, four-party talks, two-party talks."

McCain added he was not trying to tell the administration what to do.

He said that military action would be very complicated but the United States could not risk a nuclear Iran exterminating Israel.