Daily archives: February 5, 2007

‘Time to Talk’

By Paul Reynolds in BBC Online

With Iran defying the Security Council over its enrichment of uranium and the United States threatening further pressure, there are signs of organised grassroots opposition emerging to any military attack.

A pressure group in Britain has urged a diplomatic solution. There are stirrings among religious leaders and members of parliament. And three senior retired US military officers have said that they “strongly caution against the use of military force”. They have called on Britain to play a “vital role in securing a renewed diplomatic push”.

‘Counter-productive and dangerous’

The pressure group, called Crisis Action, brings together trade unions, charities and Christian and Muslim organisations. They include the Amicus, Unison and GMB unions, the Oxford Research Group, the Foreign Policy Centre, Pax Christi, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Parliament. The group’s document is entitled ” Time to Talk”.

It says: “The consequences of any possible future military action could be wholly counter-productive as well as highly dangerous. Diplomatic solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue must be pursued resolutely.”

One of its spokesmen is Sir Richard Dalton, who was British ambassador in Iran until March 2006, though he is not a signatory to the document and differs on one significant aspect. But he agrees that the military approach is not the way forward.

“There is no legal basis for an attack,” he said. “The negotiating road is hard but could be improved if Iran was offered a regional security assurance and the United States became more directly involved to reduce the issues between themselves and Iran.” However he did not agree with the suggestion in the Crisis Action document that the Security Council demand for a suspension of enrichment by Iran as a pre-condition for talks is a “fundamental” obstacle.


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