Rumsfeld urges diplomacy in Iran dispute, but McCain keeps military option open |

Rumsfeld urges diplomacy in Iran dispute, but McCain keeps military option open

MUNICH, Germany – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld urged the world Saturday to find a diplomatic solution to halt Iran’s nuclear program, but Sen. John McCain only hours later said that military action could not be ruled out.Rumsfeld told an international security conference that the United States stands “with the Iranian people, the women, the young people, who want a peaceful, democratic future,” and he accused Tehran of sponsoring terrorism.”The Iranian regime is today the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” he said. “The world does not want, and must work together to avoid, a nuclear Iran.”Despite Rumsfeld’s call for diplomacy, McCain said military action could not be ruled out if diplomatic efforts fail to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.”Every option must remain on the table,” McCain told the security conference after Rumsfeld spoke. “There’s only one thing worse than military action, that is a nuclear-armed Iran.”The Arizona Republican later added that military action is “totally undesirable” and could be considered only after all other options were exhausted.Rumsfeld spoke just before the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency voted in Vienna, Austria, to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council in a resolution expressing concern that Tehran’s nuclear program may not be “exclusively for peaceful purposes.”Tehran responded by saying it would “immediately” prepare to restart full-scale uranium enrichment and curtail the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s inspecting powers.European governments have shied away from any talk of military action while diplomat efforts continue. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in response to a question on McCain’s comments, said a military option wasn’t on NATO’s radar screen.German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China and Russia to join the United States, Germany and other European nations in pressuring Iran to return to negotiations.”The broader this is, the more significant it will be for Iran,” she said.Merkel told the conference that Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and she said Germany’s Nazi past meant it could never tolerate derogatory comments about Israel and the Holocaust by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Iran Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said after Merkel’s speech that “Iran has never been seeking nuclear weapons” but warned that Security Council referral was an “escalation” of the dispute and could affect regional stability.”I hope that Europe doesn’t choose this line of confrontation,” he told the conference. “You know our role in Afghanistan and our role to stabilize Iraq, but threats against us are always ignored.”In response to Rumsfeld’s speech calling Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, Tehran called U.S. leaders “terrorists” and said the White House, not Iran, represents the “axis of evil” in the world, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.Rumsfeld also appealed to allies to increase military spending to defeat a “global extremist empire” that threatens Europe as much as the United States. He said Islamic militants are on the move and must be checked.”They seek to take over governments from North Africa to Southeast Asia and to re-establish a caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent,” he said. “They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist empire.”Rumsfeld painted a stark picture of a lengthy war against terr

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