WAR AN OPTION – Rumsfeld declares on Iran

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United States defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that the military option against Iran was ‘on the table’.

He said this would be an option to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

His remarks came in an interview published in the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt.

Rumsfeld said: ‘All options, including the military one, are on the table.’

Using the same rhetoric as was used before the Iraq war, he added: ‘Today, biological, chemical and radiological weapons are available which could kill tens of thousands of people.’

Rumsfeld added: ‘There is a genuine possibility that these weapons could fall into the hands of people who behead innocent people and blow up children.

‘The people of the free world must realise that they have been warned.’

He said Iran must be prevented from developing a nuclear weapon.

He told Handelsblatt: ‘We know that terrorists are desperately seeking ever more deadly weapons.’

The US defence secretary alleged: ‘Iran is the main sponsor of terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.’

Last Saturday, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.

Tehran responded defiantly yesterday, saying that large-scale uranium enrichment work would begin in ‘due course’.

Also yesterday, Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, said Iran faces ‘very serious’ consequences as a result of its ‘refusal to curb its nuclear activities’.

Douste-Blazy said on French radio: ‘If they isolate themselves, it will be very serious for them.’

Last Sunday, a senior US military officer also made clear that America had not ruled out the use of force against Iran.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, of US Central Command, told the BBC’s Sunday AM programme: ‘Right now we are letting the diplomatic track go forward.

‘But I think it would be a very dangerous mistake for any adversary to think that our nations don’t retain a capability to do whatever our nations ask us to do.’