Germany: Public debate about strike on Iran dangerous

Westerwelle claims floating idea of military option against Iran's nuclear program "strengthens the Iranian leadership rather than weakening it."

By REUTERS
November 7, 2011 21:48
2 minute read.
German FM Guido Westerwelle and PM Netanyahu.

westerwelle and netanyahu_311. (photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)

Debate about a military strike against Iran is dangerous and strengthens the leadership of the Islamic Republic rather than weakening it, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told a newspaper.

Israeli media have been rife with speculation that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is working to secure cabinet consensus for an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

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Western powers suspect Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and have imposed sanctions in an attempt to curb its program. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says its atom program is for power generation.

"I warn against floating the idea of military options," Westerwelle told Hamburger Abendblatt.

"These are debates...that strengthen the Iranian leadership rather than weaken it."

The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected this week to issue its most detailed report yet on research in Iran seen as geared to developing atomic bombs. But the Security Council is not expected to impose stiffer sanctions as a result.

Westerwelle said, however, that if Iran was not cooperating, the "international community will not simply return to business as usual".

"Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for civil purposes but also the duty to exclude a military use," he said.

Westerwelle made the comments as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Monday that any military strike against Iran would be a grave mistake with unpredictable consequences.

Also on Monday, the White House said it expects the IAEA report this week to echo US concerns about the direction of Iran's nuclear program.

"We certainly expect it to echo and reinforce what we have been saying about Iran's behavior and its failure to live up to its international obligations," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "It will I'm sure echo our concern about Iran's nuclear program."

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