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Reid: ‘the world will take action if Iran develops nuclear weapons’

By James Cusick, Westminster Editor and Peter Ross

The Sunday Herald – The Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, has said the “world community” will not allow Iran to continue developing a nuclear weapon “without seriously taking some form of action”. In the clearest statement yet of the government’s determination to prevent Iran’s nuclear industry from growing to the point where it can produce weapons, Reid claimed the problem of Iran was “one that had to be countered”.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Reid, in what will be interpreted as a coded political warning, said his favourite definition of diplomacy was “the art of saying, good dog , good dog, until you find a big enough rock” to bash the animal with.

On Iran, Reid claimed “up to this point we have engaged in diplomacy, we still are, it will go on that way.”

Reid’s overt warning to the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, comes in the week when the United States confirmed it was ready to open a dialogue with Iran.

The offer of talks made last November by the USA had been ignored by Tehran. But last week the US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said it was ready to hold talks with Iran that are expected to focus on accusations that Iran is helping in the destabilisation of Iraq.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, last week said she believed the talks would begin shortly and were “at an appropriate time”.

Reid’s comments on almost a conditional diplomacy backed by the threat of action from the world’s community over the nuclear issue, is proof that the US and the UK want to see a unified stance against Ahmadinejad.

The joint pressure from London and Washington however appears to have made little impact on the Iranian president.

During a meeting yesterday with the Syrian first vice-president, Farouq al-Shara, Ahmadinejad said the Islamic republic will obtain nuclear capabilities by the end of the Persian year – which is March 2007.

The Iranian leader said: “Our enemies want to prevent us from making progress through widespread propaganda.” He added that within a year Iran would have “complete nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.

Reid told the Sunday Herald that he hoped “even at this late stage the Iranians recognise that the whole world community is deeply worried and deeply concerned” about what he called Iran’s “past deceit” and their intention to develop a nuclear weapon.