Military action against Iran is inconceivable, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said yesterday, adding that he hoped diplomacy could still end the international standoff over the country's nuclear program.
US President George W. Bush, whose government believes Iran intends to produce atomic weapons, has refused to rule out military strikes.
"All US presidents always say all options are open. But it is not on the table, it is not on the agenda. I happen to think that it is inconceivable," Straw told BBC radio.
Iran insists its nuclear program is designed for generating electricity, but the US and others accuse it of seeking to develop atomic weapons.
Britain, France and Germany are leading EU diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment activities. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity, but further enrichment makes it suitable for a bomb.
In a sign that the international community's patience is wearing thin, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution on Saturday putting Iran on the verge of referral to the UN Security Council unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities.
The resolution ordered Iran to suspend all enrichment activities, including uranium conversion, to abandon construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor and to grant access to certain military locations, individuals and documents.
Iran has rejected the resolution, protesting it was politically motivated and without legal foundation.
"The truth is, as [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice has made clear, military action in respect of the Iranian dossier is not on anybody's agenda. I believe it is inconceivable," Straw said.
Straw, who is in Brighton for the governing Labour Party's annual conference, said the IAEA resolution left the "door open for further diplomatic action with Iran" and urged the country to take that route.
He insisted the way the international community dealt with the nuclear standoff was of fundamental importance and could affect the "geopolitical landscape for years to come."
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