EU considers Iran sanctions
By Honor Mahony
The EU is considering whether to impose sanctions on Iran, but has stressed that any military action is out of the question.
Speaking at a foreign affairs meeting in Brussels on Monday (10 April), EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said "any military action is definitely out of the question for us," but added that Europe should prepare itself for other punitive action against Tehran.
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The European sanctions would come in case UN efforts to end the nuclear standoff with Tehran should fail.
"What we are doing today is a reflection on what may happen if at the end of the day what is going (on) now in the Security Council does fail," Mr Solana said according to Reuters.
"We have plenty of time, but we have to be prepared just in case they fail," he said hinting that any sanctions could include a visa ban.
Mr Solana's statements, made on the back of a discussion paper on Iran he circulated among EU foreign ministers, come as media reports indicate that Washington is considering military action against Tehran.
According to reports in the New Yorker magazine and the Washington Post over the weekend, the US is looking at its options for military strikes.
US president George W. Bush on Monday dismissed the reports as "wild speculation."
"The doctrine of prevention is to work together with other nations to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon," said Mr Bush at John Hopkins university in Baltimore.
"We hear in Washington, you know, 'prevention means force'. It doesn't mean force necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy."
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran will not give in to international pressure.
"Be certain that the government which serves you will follow the wishes of the people with wisdom and strength, and will not back down one iota," the president said in a speech on live state TV.
"Our enemies know they are unable to even slightly hurt our nation and they cannot create the tiniest obstacle on its glorious and progressive way," he said, according to agency reports.