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. Germany's Schroeder on Iran: "Leave military options aside"
HANOVER, Germany (AFP) Aug 13, 2005
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Saturday pushed aside the option of using force to contain Iran and its uranium enrichment activities, saying that military options were worthless.

"Let's leave military options aside, we have already seen that they don't amount to anything," Schroeder said during an electoral meeting in the northern city of Hanover.

The chancellor's statement followed an interview aired Friday on Israeli public television in which US President George W. Bush said that "all options are on the table" when asked if the use of force was an alternative to faltering diplomacy with Iran.

In an interview to be published Sunday in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, Schroeder said he considered any military option "extremely dangerous". "This is why I can with certainty exclude any participation by the German government under my direction," he said.

The Social Democrat chancellor -- who in polls leading up to early legislative elections on September 18 is lagging behind his Christian Democrat challenger Angela Merkel -- added that he was "very concerned" by the situation in Iran.

He repeated his belief that Tehran must not be allowed to manufacture nuclear weapons, stating that numerous European propositions had been made "in order to induce Iran to change its position".

Iran broke the seal on its uranium conversion facilities in Isfahan on Wednesday, recommencing its uranium enrichment program under the auspices of an energy program.

Suspicious of Iran's 18 years of concealments, Western countries are worried that Tehran is using the energy program as a cover for the secret development of nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors adopted a resolution on Thursday expressing "serious concern" at Tehran's decision to resume uranium conversion activities, and demanding their immediate suspension.

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