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Iran looking dangerous

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The Sun: Europe has wasted precious time “chatting” while Iran plots nuclear mayhem, ex-White House chief General Colin Powell warned last night. The Sun

By TREVOR KAVANAGH
Associate Editor

EUROPE has wasted precious time “chatting” while Iran plots nuclear mayhem, ex-White House chief General Colin Powell warned last night.

And the former US Secretary of State admitted there is little the world can now do to stop them resuming their uranium enrichment programme.

In a special interview with The Sun, he said: “The situation is potentially very dangerous. Iran’s behaviour over the last 18 months has not been open and candid.”

Referring to rants by Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, he said: “What they have been saying about wiping Israel off the map and denying the Holocaust creates great concern.”

He added: “I don’t see a way through it.

“Nor do I sense anyone in Washington or London seeing a way through it. There is a sense that we have done all we can.” Gen Powell welcomed belated moves to haul Iran before the UN Security Council. But he said: “It is one thing to get this referred to the Security Council, but what do you do when you get there?

“What sanctions are possible that would change the hardline position of the Iranian government?”

Gen Powell said the so-called EU3, of France, Germany and Britain, were “no further forward diplomatically” after two years of talks.

“We cannot afford another two years chatting back and forth between the international community,” he said. “It took two years to go from thinking about sending this to the Security Council and we have not got there yet.

“We would have been in a better position if it had been referred two or three years ago. The international community was not ready to do it — but they are now.”

Gen Powell, with 40 years experience of nuclear weapons as an army officer and politician, said war was the last possible resort — a strike against Iran would be seen as an attack on Islam.

“You can never take the military option off the table,” he said. “But it is not very attractive.”

Israeli bombers destroyed Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein’s nuclear site in 1981 — and has hinted it could do the same to Iran. Gen Powell said: “I don’t sense anyone is serious about it — except what the Israelis claim to be wanting to do. This is not the same as Iraq in 1981. Iran is a tough military target.”

Gen Powell said oil is Iran’s trump card. “Iran has locked in oil and energy deals with China and arms sales agreements with the Russians in the hope that these countries will not go along with strong sanctions,” he said. But he added: “They are some years away from having nuclear capability. Once you have the weapon, you have to figure out how you deliver it. They are nowhere near that. There is time for diplomacy.”

SENIOR officials from Europe, the US, Russia and China spent yesterday in talks at the Foreign Office in London trying to find a solution to the crisis.

President Vladimir Putin has suggested Iran carry out its uranium enrichment work in Russia where it could be inspected.

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