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US Must Be Willing To Take Military Action Against Iran: McCain

AFP | January 16 2006

Washington should be prepared to take military action if necessary against Iran, a senior US lawmaker said Sunday, calling the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program the biggest international crisis in more than a decade.

"The military option is the last option but cannot be taken off of the table," US Senator John McCain said.

"This is the most grave situation that we have faced since the end of the Cold War, absent the whole war on terror," the Republican lawmaker told CBS television's "Face the Nation" program.

McCain said even the the massive military commitments in Iraq should not allow the United States to rule out responding with force against Iran.

"We are tied up to a great degree. But that does not mean that we don't have military options," McCain said.

He added that such measures should only be resorted to after peaceful methods have been exhausted, including immediate UN action.

"We must go to the UN now for sanctions," McCain said.

"If the Russians and the Chinese, for reasons that would be abominable, do not join us, then we would have to go with the willing."

McCain, one of the most influential members of the US Senate and a leading contender to run for the White House in 2008, said that Washington also should try to counter Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by shoring up opposition democratic movements in Iran.

"The Iranian people are not happy under these mullahs. They have basically repressed and oppressed them. We got to do a lot more in encouraging pro-democracy in Iran," McCain said.

Asked it Iran posed a greater threat to US security than Iraq, McCain said: "I think at this time clearly it does."

"Now, the difference between Iraq and Iran is that Saddam Hussein had us all fooled, including his own generals, about having weapons of mass destruction. I think it's pretty clear in the mind of any expert that Iranians are about to acquire them," he said.

His comments came as Iran vowed to press on with its disputed nuclear program regardless of mounting international pressure.

The EU and the United States are pushing for Iran to be referred to the Security Council over what they fear is a covert weapons drive, leaving Tehran exposed to the prospect of international sanctions.

European, American, Chinese and Russian officials are due to hold talks on the crisis in London on Monday, when they are expected to set a date for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors.

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