Reuters: Military action against Iran over its nuclear
programme is not on the agenda, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. Reuters
LONDON – Military action against Iran over its nuclear programme is not on the agenda, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
But she added that President George W. Bush would not rule out any option while the international community pursued diplomatic means to address fears that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons.
“Military action isn’t on the agenda. The agenda is a diplomatic one,” Rice told BBC Television in a joint interview with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
“We are on a diplomatic course and we believe that with strong international support, with strong international coherence about this, we can succeed,” she said.
Straw, who has been touring Rice’s home state of Alabama with his U.S. counterpart, has said military strikes against Iran are inconceivable.
On Sunday, he said it was a completely “abstract issue”.
Rice came back: “The American president never takes any option off the table … It is as Jack said at this point, however, an abstract issue.”
Iran, which Western countries suspect is developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian programme, insists its programme is intended only for peaceful electricity generation.
Washington’s top diplomat played down differences with Russia after a recent visit to Moscow to discuss Iran.
Diplomats say Rice learned during her trip that Russia would actively oppose any push to refer Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council.
Washington won a vote last month at the International Atomic Energy Agency threatening Iran with referral to the Council but Russia abstained and no deadline was set.
“The Russians have had a view that it is not yet time to refer this to the Security Council but … the Russian didn’t vote down the IAEA resolution, they abstained. An abstention is a wait-and-see,” Rice said.
“The Russians in their wait-and-see mode want to do what we all want to do which is to pursue a diplomatic path and see if the Iranians will come along,” she said.
Russia is building the $1 billion Bushehr nuclear power station in Iran and has long opposed any escalation of the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear programme.