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US denies strike-first policy targets Iran

US denied that it was firing a warning shot at Iran by reaffirming its strike-first policy of pre-emption.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 16:11 IST

The United States denied that it was firing a warning shot at Iran by reaffirming its strike-first policy of pre-emption nearly three years after the start of the war in Iraq.

US President George W Bush restated his belief in pre-emptive military action in a 49-page National Security Strategy that also warned: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley refused to rule out military force against the Islamic Republic but denied that the blueprint, the first since 2002, was a message for Tehran.

"It is completely wrong to say that our preservation of the doctrine of pre-emption is to preserve it with Iran as the principal case. That is not true. It is an element of our inventory to deal with these problems," he said.

Hadley also suggested that Iran's recent offer to hold direct talks with the United States about Iraq's future suggested that the Islamic Republic was "finally beginning to listen" to criticisms about its policies in the region.

His comments came after a speech on the national security strategy, which drew up a balance sheet of what it called Bush's foreign policy successes and remaining "challenges" like bloody sectarian violence in Iraq and tense standoffs over nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

The document made no direct reference to possible UN Security Council action to punish Iran for refusing to freeze sensitive aspects of its nuclear program, which Washington says hides an atomic weapons project.

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 14:21 IST