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Iran Plays Down Threat of US Military Action


Iran's foreign minister played down the possibility of U.S. military action against its nuclear facilities, saying Saturday that the United States is in no position to impose another crisis on the region or its own citizens. From Washington, VOA's Margaret Besheer reports, the Iranian comments follow remarks U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney made about options for dealing with Iran's unwillingness to halt its nuclear activities.

In Tehran Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters he does not see the United States imposing another crisis on its taxpayers by starting another war in the Middle East, and should instead be thinking how to extricate itself from Iraq.

His remarks follow comments by Vice President Dick Cheney during a visit to Australia. Mr. Cheney told a news conference in Sydney that the United States is "deeply concerned" about Iran's activities, including its sponsorship of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group and inflammatory statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as its nuclear activities.

"We believe it would be a serious mistake if a nation such as Iran were to become a nuclear power," said Mr. Cheney.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly pursuing a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran denies.

On Monday, diplomats from the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members, plus Germany, will meet in London to discuss further measures against Iran, after a report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency found Iran has defied the council, and not halted sensitive uranium enrichment work.

Mr. Cheney said the United States favors a diplomatic approach for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, but he also left open the possibility of military action.

"We have worked with the European community and through the United Nations to put in place a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations and to resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our preference," he added. "But I have also made the point, and the president has made the point, that all options are still on the table."

Iran's foreign minister said negotiations, not threats, are the way to resolve the impasse.

Mottaki said Tehran wants the meetings in London next week to make what he called the "brave decision to resume talks with Iran," a move he says could also lead to international cooperation.