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UPDATED: 08:47, March 07, 2005
Powell: No need for military action to Iran
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Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday said he saw no need for military action against Iran for its suspected development of nuclear weapons, given strong diplomatic efforts to address the issue.

Powell told Fuji Television in an interview that although military force remained an option, President George W. Bush had made it clear that he wanted to find a diplomatic solution.

"Just because there is the possibility you could use military force, I don't see any need to think about that right now because there are... strong diplomatic efforts under way," Powell told Fuji Television's "Hodo 2001" programme.

"The international community has come together to make it clear to Iran that they should not develop nuclear weapons and we are developing the efforts of the European Union ... and we are working with the International Atomic Energy Agency, so the issue of conflict for Iran I don't think arises yet," he told the Japanese television station in a live interview.

Bush last week edged towards backing Europe's offer of incentives to Iran to abandon nuclear arms, but US officials say it could take several weeks to work out agreement on the issue.

The United States would like Britain, France and Germany, the so-called EU3 who are trying to negotiate an end to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme, to back taking Iran to the UN Security Council and perhaps imposing UN sanctions.

The EU3 have offered Iran economic and political incentives if it abandons its uranium enrichment programme, which could produce fuel for nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.

Teheran has temporarily frozen most of the programme but has refused to abandon it.

Washington accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy programme. Teheran denies that, insisting its aim is the peaceful generation of electricity.

Source: Agencies/CD

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