Monday, October 31, 2005

Iran: Britain calls for U.N. action


Sunday, October 30, 2005

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The United Nations and wider world community must respond decisively to Iran after its president called for Israel to be destroyed, the British government says.

But it said there was no discussion about military action.

Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Union's executive, later said it was too early to talk about sanctions.

"The position that has been taken by the Iranians is so extreme," British Defence Secretary John Reid told BBC Television. "It is in contradiction to everything that the United Nations stands for. So this is a problem and a challenge for the world community.

"It is the United Nations which must face up to that, and (U.N. Secretary-General) Kofi Annan has made it plain that it intends to face up to that."

Conservative Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stunned the West last week by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

Tehran partially backtracked on Saturday, its foreign ministry saying it stood by its U.N. commitments and would not use violence against another country.

Reid said there was no thought of military action.

"I don't think anybody is speaking about military involvement at any level," he said. "But it is certainly a challenge to the United Nations."

Britain is among those leading attempts to persuade Iran to renounce nuclear technology they suspect may be part of a weapons program. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed purely at peaceful power generation.

London and Washington have threatened to try to have the U.N. Security Council impose sanctions, but European Commission President Barroso said on Sunday he not believe these were likely soon.

"I don't believe they are on the agenda now. At least, we are not considering them now," Barroso told ITV when asked about sanctions. Barroso also all but ruled out military action.

"As far as I know member states are not considering now that kind of option," he said. "We are considering ... very strong political and diplomatic pressure."


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