Saturday, January 14, 2006

Solana: Military Action Against Iran Out of the Question

EU Business:
A military strike against Iran for its refusal to halt nuclear research is ruled out, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in an interview to be published Sunday. "Military action against Iran is out of the question," he told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, adding that the decision by European powers to take the matter to the UN Security Council did not mean the end of negotiations with Tehran. READ MORE

Solana called on Iran to prove that its nuclear programme was purely peaceful, as it asserts, and not designed to develop atomic weaponry as Western powers headed by the United States suspect.

"For the moment we are trying to reach a diplomatic solution, he said, adding, "we should not indulge in speculation on possible sanctions which at the moment are not part of the debate."

Britain, France and Germany took the first step Thursday toward moving the issue before the Security Council, calling for a meeting of the UN's nuclear watchdog as the diplomatic standoff between Tehran and the West escalated.

US President George W. Bush said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington Friday that the crisis should be referred to the council because letting Iran have a nuclear weapon was "unacceptable" and would pose a threat to the world.

Representatives of the EU countries and the United States are to meet with counterparts from Russia and China on Monday to discuss how to proceed at the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Security Council.

European ministers have said the question of sanctions is premature, while British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said military action was "not conceivable."

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remained defiant Saturday, saying his government would not limit its nuclear programme even if ordered to do so by the Security Council.

He said the Islamic republic had every right to possess nuclear technology but insisted it was not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.