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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Schr�der Rejects Military Force to Stop Iran's Nuclear Work - New York Times

Schr�der Rejects Military Force to Stop Iran's Nuclear Work - New York TimesAugust 14, 2005
Schröder Rejects Military Force to Stop Iran's Nuclear Work

BERLIN, Aug. 13 (Reuters) - Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Saturday rejected the threat of military force against Iran, hours after President Bush said that, on general principle, he could not rule out the use of force as a last resort to press the government to give up its nuclear program.

Mr. Schröder, one of the most prominent European opponents of the American-led war in Iraq, told an election rally in his home city, Hanover, that the threat of force was not acceptable.

"I am worried about developments there, because no one can want the Iranian leadership to gain possession of atomic weapons," Mr. Schröder said. "The Europeans and the Americans are united in this goal. Up to now we were also united in the way to pursue this."

"This morning I read that military options are now on the table," he said. "My answer to that is: dear friends in Europe and America, let us work out a strong negotiating position. But let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work."

The comments came after Mr. Bush told Israeli television, in an interview broadcast Saturday, that "all options are on the table."

Mr. Schröder's opposition to the Iraq war was seen as decisive in his unexpected victory in the 2002 general election, which he won narrowly after coming from behind. But his critical stance caused serious ruptures in Germany's traditionally strong relations with the United States.

He faces another election this September. Mr. Schröder's Social Democrats are currently lagging behind the opposition conservatives, but the conservatives' lead has shrunk in recent weeks.

Iran angered the European Union and the United States by resuming uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant on Monday after rejecting a European Union offer of political and economic incentives.

Iran says it aims only to produce electricity and it rejects Western concerns that it may be planning to develop a nuclear bomb.

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