The Guardian: Tony Blair warned Iran last night in his starkest terms yet that the world would soon start demanding direct action against Tehran if “totally unacceptable” threats to wipe out Israel were repeated by its government. The Guardian
Ewen MacAskill, Michael White, Nicholas Watt and Robert Tait in Tehran
Tony Blair warned Iran last night in his starkest terms yet that the world would soon start demanding direct action against Tehran if “totally unacceptable” threats to wipe out Israel were repeated by its government.
At the end of the EU’s one day summit in Hampton Court, Surrey, where Iran’s stance was roundly condemned Mr Blair recalled that many countries had been urging restraint from the international community over Tehran’s nuclear programme. But he said that instead of people “telling us you are not going to do anything about Iran, the question people are going to ask is ‘what are you going to do about Iran?’ because can you imagine a state with an attitude like that having nuclear weapons”.
Earlier the 25 leaders of the European Union issued a joint statement rebuking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, over his comment that Israel should be wiped off the map. Several countries including Britain, France, Russia, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, called in Iranian diplomats to chastise them. The EU leaders said no country that claimed to be a responsible member of the international community should be urging the destruction of another state. But none endorsed a call by Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister, for Iran to be thrown out of the UN.
Following Mr Ahmadinejad’s remarks this week Mr Blair said: “I felt a real sense of revulsion at these remarks. Anyone in Europe, knowing our history, when we hear such statements made about Israel, it makes us feel very angry. It’s just completely wrong.” Singling out Tehran’s attitude towards Israel, terrorism and nuclear weapons, Mr Blair said that “if they continue down this path people may be a real threat to world security”.
Jacques Chirac, France’s president, said: “I was profoundly shocked by the declaration of the Iranian president,” and that by his “irresponsible remarks” he risked his country being made a pariah.
Britain France and Germany have struggled to persuade Iran to accept supervision by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, of its nuclear programme. In recent weeks British officials have also blamed bomb-making techniques imported from Iran for the deaths of British soldiers in Iraq.
Observers in Iran played down suggestions that Mr Ahmadinejad’s remarks signalled a new era of hostility towards Israel. Views differed on his motives, but Saeed Leilaz, a Tehran-based political analyst, said it was more likely for domestic consumption.