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'Sanctions against Iran possible'

United States President George W Bush has not ruled out military action as the last option as regards Iran.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 10:27 IST

United States President George W Bush on Saturday said referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council is still a possibility and he has not ruled out military action as the last option.

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer, Bush said Iran's designs to pursue for possessing nuclear weapons is "unacceptable' and sanctions are "certainly a real possibility" if Iran continues its nuclear programme.

"All options should be on the table, and the last option is the military option. We have got to work hard to exhaust all diplomacy and that's what the country is seeing to happen," Bush said last night.

Iran, which is the second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia in West Asia, earlier this month resumed research on the nuclear fuel cycle.

It says its programme is for peaceful purposes and to harness energy. The US and the European Union say they fear Iran's aim is to build a nuclear weapons.

Taking a hard line against Iran's nuclear ambitions, Bush said, "The Free World cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

In the 20-minute interview in the White House, Bush said, "Our strategy is to present and... Hold together a united front -- a coalition of nations -- to say to the Iranians your designs to have a nuclear weapon or your desire to have the capability of making a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."

Meanwhile, the US Senate has passed a unanimous resolution condemning Iran's nuclear programme and refer it to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions for violating non-proliferation goals.

Adopted without debate, the resolution noted "the many failures of the government of Iran to comply faithfully with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations" and its commitments to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing.

The Senate also urged the International Atomic Energy Agency, which meets on February 2, "to order that Iran's non compliance with its safeguards obligations be reported to the United Nations Security Council."

The resolution also urged the UN Security Council members, particularly Russia and China, to consider any report of Iran's non compliance in fulfilment of the mandate of the Security Council "to respond to and deal with situations bearing on the maintenance of international peace and security."

Russia and China have been reluctant to take the matter to the Security Council.

Commenting on Iran's lukewarm response to the Russian proposal, White House spokesman Scott McCllellan told reporters on Friday that Iran was playing "games" with the international community by not accepting a Russian compromise.

McClellan said, "They appear to be playing more games with the international community."

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 09:17 IST