US warns Tehran over nuclear 'mistake'
US Vice-President Dick Cheney renewed Washington's criticism of Iran yesterday, warning the Islamic state it would be a "serious mistake" if it continued to develop nuclear technology.
A bullish Cheney, speaking in advance of tomorrow's crucial meeting of the UN Security Council in London, said "all options" remained on the table to deal with Iran after it ignored a UN deadline to halt uranium enrichment and said it would defy foreign pressure.
Cheney, speaking at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, said the US remained "deeply concerned" about Iran's activities, including the "aggressive" sponsoring of terrorist group Hezbollah and inflammatory statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left.
Cheney said top US officials will soon be meeting European allies to decide the next step toward planned tough sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
"We worked with the European community and the United Nations to put together a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations and resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our preference," Cheney said. "But I've also made the point, and the President has made the point, that all options are on the table," he added, appearing to leave open the possibility of military action.
"We believe it would be a serious mistake if a nation such as Iran became a nuclear power."
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday that Iran had not only ignored a UN Security Council ultimatum to freeze the enrichment programme, but had expanded that programme by setting up hundreds of centrifuges. Enriched uranium fuels nuclear reactors but, enriched further, is used in nuclear bombs.
The United States and several of its Western allies fear that Iran is using its nuclear programme to produce an atomic weapon - charges Iran denies, saying its aim is to generate electricity.
Iran showed no signs later yesterday that it was prepared to back down.
Responding to Cheney's comments, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the US was not in a position to take military action against it and urged Washington and its allies to engage in dialogue.
"We do not see America in a position to impose another crisis on its tax payers by starting another war in the region," Mottaki said.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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