Friday, October 28, 2005

We Will Use Force, Blair Warns Iranians


From the Telegraph:


Tony Blair delivered his strongest warning to Iran last night, saying Teheran would not be allowed to become a "threat to our world security".

He hinted that the West might have to resort to force. The Prime Minister said western allies would meet in the next few days to decide how to react after President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

While the initial response is likely to be an intensification of diplomatic pressure, senior British officials did not rule out the possibility that they could resort to force if Iran continued on its path of radical confrontation.


Speaking at a European summit at Hampton Court, west London, a visibly angry Mr Blair said Iran would be making "a very big mistake" if it believed western leaders were too preoccupied with other issues to deliver a strong response.

Western frustration with Iran has been building up for months, particularly over Teheran's nuclear programme, its support for Palestinian radicals and suspicions that it has passed bomb-making technology to Iraqi insurgents who have killed at least eight British servicemen this year.

Mr Blair's patience finally snapped after hearing Mr Ahmadinejad's harangue at a Teheran conference entitled "The World Without Zionism", at which he declared: "The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world.

"As the Imam [the late Ayatollah Khomeini] said, 'Israel must be wiped off the map' … The Islamic world will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland."

The Prime Minister said: "These sentiments are completely and totally unacceptable. I have never come across a situation where the president of a country says they want to wipe out another country - this is not acceptable. Their attitude towards terrorism, towards the nuclear weapons and towards Israel is not acceptable.

"If they continue down this path, people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world security and stability."

Mr Blair said he felt a "real sense of revulsion" at the remarks.

Alluding to fears that after the war in Iraq the US and Britain could turn to Iran, he said: "I have been answering questions on Iran with everyone saying to me, 'Tell us you are not going to do anything about Iran'. If they carry on like this the question people will be asking is, 'When are you going to something about it?' "