Annan: Iran Intervention Would Be Unwise
By EDITH M. LEDERER
.c The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Tuesday for
key parties to seek a negotiated settlement with Iran over its nuclear program
and warned that military intervention would be ``unwise and disastrous.''
Annan, who steps down as U.N. chief Dec. 31, issued the warning as the Security
Council debated a resolution that would impose sanctions on Tehran for refusing
to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States is considering sending a
second aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf as a show of force against Iran.
After two rounds of closed-doors talks Tuesday, the six key nations trying
to negotiate with Iran - Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Russia and China
- remained divided on the scope of sanctions. They scheduled another meeting
``Our goal is to get this resolution done this week,'' said acting U.S. ambassador
Alejandro Wolff. But Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was
more concerned about the content than the timing.
Annan addressed concerns about a possible military operation in Iran at a
farewell news conference in response to a question about how the Security
Council should deal with crises after the Iraq war. The council refused to
authorize a war against Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Annan called the U.N.'s
failure to stop the conflict ``the worst moment'' of his 10 years as secretary-general.
``You mentioned Iran, which implies that there is concern that there may
be another military operation there,'' Annan told a reporter. ``First of
all, I don't think we are there yet, or we should go in that direction.''
``I think it would be rather unwise and disastrous,'' he said. ``I believe
that the council, which is discussing the issue, will proceed cautiously
and try and do whatever it can to get a negotiated settlement for the sake
of the region and for the sake of the world,'' he said.
The Bush administration has repeatedly declined to rule out the use of force
in Iran, although senior officials have also said their first choice is to
rely on diplomacy.
A senior U.S. defense official said the idea of building up U.S. Navy forces
has been discussed for some time and one proposal is to send a second aircraft
carrier to the region. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because
the idea has not been approved, said it was unclear when a decision will
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at the peaceful production
of nuclear energy, but the Americans and Europeans suspect Tehran's ultimate
goal is the production of nuclear weapons
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tuesday that possible Security
Council sanctions would not stop Iran from pursuing uranium enrichment, a
technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes
or fuel for a nuclear bomb.
Annan expressed concern that because of Iran's nuclear program and the situation
in Israel, which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, several governments
in the Middle East have said recently they are going to explore facilities
to produce nuclear energy.
``What I'm worried about is we may see competitive development of these devices,''
Annan said. ``And we need to take time - we need to take real effort to assure
that we don't get into that situation in the region.''
The latest draft resolution being discussed by key Security Council members
would order all countries to ban the supply of specified materials and technology
that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It would also
impose a travel ban and asset freeze on key companies and individuals in
the country's nuclear and missile programs who are named on a U.N. list.
Russia and China remain at odds with the United States and key European countries
over the travel ban and a list of companies and individuals that should be
subject to a freeze of their financial assets.
``We still have some difficult problems to resolve,'' Churkin said after
Tuesday's meeting. He called the travel ban ``an unnecessary irritant,''
and reiterated that Moscow has still not agreed with the list.
Wolff said the U.S. views the travel ban as ``a priority.''
The six countries offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political
rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment
and committed itself to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks on its
With Iran refusing to comply with an Aug. 31 council deadline to stop enrichment,
Britain and France circulated a draft sanctions resolution in October.
Associated Press Writers Paul Burkhardt at the United Nations, Pauline Jelinek
in Washington, and Ali Akbar Dareini in Kermanshah, Iran, contributed to
12/20/06 04:21 EST
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press