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(photo credit: AP)
Italy opposes any military action against Iran over Teheran's contentious nuclear program because such an attack could destabilize the entire Middle East, Premier Romano Prodi said Tuesday.
In a speech delivered to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, on a visit to Rome, Prodi said that Italy is against "any military solution," adding that "in addition to not solving the problem, it would open new destabilizing scenarios in the whole region."
Prodi said Iran has every right to develop a peaceful nuclear program, while the international community has an equal right to verify its peaceful nature using "the existing judicial measures."
Italy, as of this year a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, traditionally has good relations with Tehran and maintains a strong presence in Iran's gas market through Italian oil and gas giant Eni SpA.
Senior government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken out against any use of force against Iran, saying that a new war in the region would be disastrous and calling instead for increased diplomatic efforts.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but its assertions are widely disbelieved. The Security Council has demanded that Teheran suspend uranium enrichment - a potential pathway both to generating nuclear power and creating the fissile core of warheads.
Iran could face further sanctions if upcoming reports by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency do not show improved Iranian cooperation.