Friday, October 28, 2005

Blair hints at military action after Iran's 'disgraceful' taunt

Here's the story from the Times (of London, not New York) but you might as well read Blair's own words.

Press conference at EU informal summit Hampton Court


Prime Minister, two topics if I may. Iran, if I could take you back to Iran. Strong words today on Iran from the EU, but what do you say to those who say it is merely words and words simply aren't enough with this regime? And you talked of getting broad agreement here, do you wish you could get broad agreement in your Cabinet and what are you going to do to re-impose it?

Tony Blair:

On the latter, I think these issues like smoking, it is a curious thing, partly because it is not the normal part of politics, people can often have far sharper disagreements and I guess probably they would be the same type of disagreements in this room, and any room. I didn't actually put it to the leaders of the European Council, but I suspect they might have been divided in the same way. But we just take the policy forward, and it is pretty obvious the direction in which it is all going, which is towards increasing restriction, and that is for very good health reasons. But I wouldn't, to be honest, read too much into it.

In respect of Iran, well what you say is indeed what people will say, and we will have discussions with our main allies over the next few days. And this of course is the position thatIran has had, it is just that it has been expressed again and maybe people are just noticing this. I have got to say I am sure there are people inIran in their leadership who believe that the world is sufficiently distracted with everything else, that we can't really afford the time to focus on this issue. And I think they would be making a very big mistake if they do that. These sentiments are completely and totally unacceptable. I have never come across a situation of the President of a country saying they want to wipe out, not that they have got a problem with, or an issue with, but want to wipe out another country. This is unacceptable.

And their attitude towards Israel, their attitude towards terrorism, their attitude on the nuclear weapons issue, it isn't acceptable. Now if they continue down this path then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world security and stability. And as I say, they may believe that with everything else, the eyes of the world will be elsewhere, but I felt a real sense of revulsion at those remarks, and to anybody in Europe, knowing our history, when we hear statements like that made about Israel, it makes us feel very angry. It is just completely wrong, this, and it indicates and underlines I am afraid how much some of those places need reform themselves. Because how are we going to build a more secure world with that type of attitude? It is a disgrace I am afraid. And I am aware, I haven't said in precise terms what we can do, but this is a discussion that we will be having with our allies. And you know there has been a long time in which I have been answering questions onIran, with everyone saying to me: "Tell us you are not going to do anything about Iran ." If they carry on like this, the question people are going to be asking us is: When are you going to do something about this? Because you imagine a state like that, with an attitude like that, having a nuclear weapon?



Prime Minister, just on Iran, you have expressed your anger and disgust at this, and there has been a strong condemnation from the European Union, and the Charge d'Affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office this morning. Has there been any response yet fromIran , and if not, what response do you want to hear from them? And on our meeting today, do you feel any closer, or more confident that you will get a budget resolution in December? And President Barroso, you said that was crucial in December, but why, because this budget is for 2007-13, so does it really matter if it is decided next year instead of in December?

Tony Blair:

On Iran, as far as I am aware we have heard nothing back from Iran. What they have to do is they have to alter their basic attitude, but the fact that it is being expressed by the President of the country doesn't give you a great deal of confidence. In respect of the budget deal, it is still very, very challenging, but at least we have got the right context now in which it can be taken forward. The reason why it is important - and I will let President Barroso speak in a minute - it is very, very important, particularly for the accession countries. For the rest of us frankly, as you rightly say, it is 2007, but for the accession countries this is major help that they are going to get, and if the budget is in crisis they can't then plan ahead, and that is why it is really, really, important for those countries to get a budget agreement if we possibly can.