Iran General NewsGermany's Schroeder rejects military option on Iran

Germany’s Schroeder rejects military option on Iran

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Reuters: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder rejected the threat
of military force against Iran on Saturday, hours after U.S. President George Bush said he would consider it as a last resort to press Tehran to give up its nuclear programme.
Schroeder, one of the most prominent European opponents of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, told an election rally in his home city of Hanover that the threat of force was not acceptable. Reuters

BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder rejected the threat of military force against Iran on Saturday, hours after U.S. President George Bush said he would consider it as a last resort to press Tehran to give up its nuclear programme.

Schroeder, one of the most prominent European opponents of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, told an election rally in his home city of Hanover that the threat of force was not acceptable.

“I am worried about developments there because no one can want the Iranian leadership to gain possession of atomic weapons,” Schroeder said. “The Europeans and the Americans are united in this goal. Up to now we were also united in the way to pursue this.

“This morning I read that military options are now on the table. My answer to that is: ‘Dear friends in Europe and America, let us work out a strong negotiating position. But let’s take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn’t work,'” he said.

The comments came after Bush told Israeli television that “all options are on the table”, including the use of force.

Schroeder’s opposition to the Iraq war was seen as a decisive factor in his unexpected victory in the 2002 general election, which he won narrowly after coming from behind.

But his critical stance caused serious ruptures in Germany’s traditionally strong relations with the United States.

He faces another election this September. Schroeder’s Social Democrats are currently lagging the opposition conservatives, but the latter’s lead has shrunk in recent weeks.

Iran angered the European Union and the United States by resuming uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant last Monday after rejecting an EU offer of political and economic incentives in return for giving up its nuclear programme.

Tehran says it aims only to produce electricity and denies Western accusations it is seeking a nuclear bomb.

Schroeder said he was against the spread of atomic weapons to more countries. But he included a rebuke to the current group of countries which already have the nuclear bomb.

“We don’t want atomic weapons to be more widespread. And here, let me say this to those who have atomic weapons: We would all be more credible than we were in the past if getting rid of these weapons were addressed decisively,” he said.

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