Iran General NewsNATO warns of Iran nuclear domino, says back Obama

NATO warns of Iran nuclear domino, says back Obama

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ImageReuters: NATO urged its members on Monday to do more to help new U.S. President Barack Obama tackle the growing threats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and failed states.

By David Brunnstrom

ImageBRUSSELS, Jan 26 (Reuters) – NATO urged its members on Monday to do more to help new U.S. President Barack Obama tackle the growing threats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and failed states.

Alliance Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer highlighted nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran, warning that the latter was threatening to provoke "a nuclear domino effect" in the Middle East.

"The problems we face today have not magically gone away," he said in a speech to a Brussels think-tank, stressing the need for greater Euro-Atlantic cooperation under the new U.S. administration.

"The world is not suddenly more peaceful," he said.

"International terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the growing numbers of failing states are not just the obsession of a few," he said.

De Hoop Scheffer said urgent attention needed to be paid to South Asia and said an victory for extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan would be "a disaster for international security".

"The nuclear proliferation regime is eroding before us," he added. "North Korea is challenging the balance of power in Asia and Iran is threatening to provoke a nuclear domino effect in the Middle East."

In Afghanistan, a regional approach was needed, he said, with discussions involving all regional players — Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and also Iran.

Referring to U.S. plans to increase troops numbers in Afghanistan, De Hoop Scheffer said Europe had to do its bit.

"I cannot accept that the U.S. has to do all the heavy lifting…Europe too has to step up — with more forces and when that is not forthcoming, more on the civilian side," he said.

EUROPEAN RESPONSE

De Hoop Scheffer said that when Washington called on Europe for help, the Europeans had to respond in a united way — with the resources to match. It could not leave it to Obama to make all the running and offer all the concessions.

"If the Europeans expect that the United States will close Guantanamo, sign up to climate change treaties, accept EU leadership on key issues, but provide nothing more in return, for example in Afghanistan, than encouragement — they should think again. It simply won't work like that."

De Hoop Scheffer reiterated NATO calls for European countries to drop restrictions on use of troops in combat, and for better coordination of the military and development efforts.

He also called for a stepped up focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus region, citing political, security and energy issues. The alliance should consider its role in ensuring security of energy supply "much more seriously", he said.

Despite times of economic hardship, Europe needed to increase its security capabilities to make it a more effective partner of the United States.

"As America remains prepared to lead, it will not be able to lead alone. Europe should be both willing and able to be a partner that the new American administration is looking for." (Editing by Jon Boyle)

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