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Ex-defense secretary Perry warns against military action against Iran

The USS Enterprise. One part of the US military machine that may be involved in military action against Iran.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 24, 2006
Former US defense secretary William Perry cautioned Wednesday against taking any military action against nuclear renegade Iran, warning of a "horrific" backlash that could include a global Tehran-mobilized terrorism strike on the United States.

Perry said the United States should instead be directly involved in multilateral talks with Iran to defuse the nuclear crisis instead of standing on the sidelines and letting the European Union negotiate with Tehran.

Similarly, he said, the United States should also be more directly engaged with North Korea on ending its nuclear weapons drive, noting that China-led six-nation talks on the crisis for the last two years had failed to bring about a breakthrough.

"The stakes are enormous," he said. Diplomatic efforts have been a "total failure.

"We have dug a deep hole with Iran and North Korea and there are no attractive alternatives," Perry, currently a professor at Stanford University, told a forum of the Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank.

He said a single "surgical" strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would not be sufficient to end the Islamic republic's atomic ambitions.

"They need to be repeated...the unintended consequences of such a strike are horrific," he said, raising the possibility of a "long and complicated and bloody war" which is "a very serious and dangerous alternative."

Perry, who served from 1994 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton and who helped shift the US military's post-Cold War focus from deterrence of threats to prevention, warned that Iran could mobilize a global "jihadist" (Muslim militant) attack on the United States and heavily back insurgents against US troops in Iraq.

"The greatest risk today is a terrorist group getting a nuclear bomb" from either North Korea, Iran or Pakistan, he said. Iran, he pointed out, could orchestrate a "sanctioned leak" of nuclear technology to a terrorist group.

The United States has refused to rule out military action against Iran even as it pushes for UN sanctions to force the Iranians to halt their uranium enrichment activities. Veto-wielding Russia and China are against sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany, the so-called EU-3, which are involved in direct talks with Iran, hope to coax Tehran into suspending uranium enrichment work in exchange for a package of trade and technology incentives.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but has refused international appeals to stop.

Tehran has told Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that it wants to hold talks with the West but only if there were no pre-conditions.

Related Links

Turkey to host military exercise against nuclear arms proliferation
Ankara (AFP) May 23, 2006
Land, air and naval forces from Turkey, the United States, France and Portugal will hold a joint military exercise aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, officials said Tuesday.

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