2008. július 10., csütörtök

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Az USA levette a napirendről az Irán elleni támadást?

US plays down fears of war with Iran

Agence France-Presse | Jul 10, 2008

WASHINGTON: The United States has played down any prospects of war with Iran or any immediate dangers from its nuclear drive but warned that the world was ready to confront its "provocative" policies.

Iran's test firing of a medium range missile that it said could reach Israel drew anger in Washington but US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States and Iran were not close to war.

Asked if the two countries were closer to a military confrontation in light of the escalating rhetoric, Gates said, "No I don't think so."

"The reality is there is a lot of signalling going on, but everybody recognizes what the consequences of any kind of a conflict would be," he said.

"And I would tell you that this government is working hard to make sure the diplomatic and economic approach to dealing with Iran and trying to get the Iranian government to change its policy is the strategy and is the approach that continues to dominate," said the defense chief.

Iran's missile launch Wednesday came a day after an aide to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Tehran would "set fire" to Israel and the US navy in the Gulf in response to any American attack over its nuclear program.

The missile launch is "very disturbing, provocative and reckless," said William Burns, the top official handling Iranian issues at the US State Department.

But Under Secretary of State Williams played down any imminent dangers from Iran's uranium enrichment despite fears among world powers fear the sensitive nuclear program could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

"While Iran seeks to create the perception of advancement of its nuclear program, real progress has been more modest," he told Congressional hearings on the "strategic challenge posed by Iran."

Iran has not yet mastered uranium enrichment, thanks to three rounds of sanctions imposed on Tehran by the UN Security Council for not suspending the nuclear program, he said.

"It is apparent that Iran has not yet perfected enrichment, and as a direct result of UN sanctions, Iran's ability to procure technology or items of significance to its missile programs, even dual use items, is being impaired," Burns said.

In addition to limiting Iran's access to proliferation sensitive technologies and products, Burns said key officials involved in Iran's procurement activities had been "cut off" from the international financial system and restricted from travel.

Iran's banks were also being pushed out of their normal spheres of operation, he said.

Burns also told Iran to seriously reconsider its "provocative" and "threatening" policies and move towards a "cooperative and constructive" path.

"Until that time, however, the US and the international community remain committed to meeting the challenges posed by Iran," he said.

US lawmakers meanwhile expressed concern over the Iranian nuclear drive and missile tests and urged the administration of President George W. Bush to step up diplomatic efforts to end Iran's defiant nuclear drive.

"Iran daily inches closer to the point where it can produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear bomb," said Howard Berman, the chairman of the House of Representatives foreign affairs panel.

"No one knows precisely when that will happen, but most experts say it will be soon," he said. "Some predict as early as the end of this year."

Senate foreign affairs panel chairman Joseph Biden called on the Bush administration to hold direct talks with Iran similar to those with North Korea that led to commitments to end the hardline communist state's nuclear weapons drive.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are aimed solely at generating energy but the West fears could be aimed at making an atomic bomb.

The United States has never ruled out military action against Iranian atomic facilities.

Burns said Washington would pursue "tough minded diplomacy, maximizing pressure on the Iranians at multiple points to drive home the costs of continued defiance of the rest of the world, especially on the nuclear issue.

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