Daily Israel Report

Hague Warns Israel Over Iran Strike

British Foreign Secretary: sanctions and negotiations have to be given a chance to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/20/2012, 6:14 AM

William Hague and Binyamin Netanyahu
William Hague and Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Britain’s Foreign Secretary on Sunday insisted economic sanctions and negotiations had to be given “a real chance” to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

William Hague made the comments in an interview with BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, in which he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would result in another cold war in the Middle East.

“They would either be attacked and there would be a war, or there would be a cold war in which Iran for the long term would be subject to these very intense economic sanctions and they would find that other nations in their region developed nuclear weapons,” the British Guardian quoted Hague as having said in the interview.

However, he urged against military action, although he said it was not ruled out as an option.

“I don't think a wise thing at this moment is for Israel to launch a military attack on Iran,” Hague said, adding, “I think Israel like everyone else in the world should be giving a real chance to the approach we have adopted on very serious economic sanctions and economic pressure and the readiness to negotiate with Iran. That's what we need to make a success of.”

Hague admitted that Israel did not share its plans with Britain and added, “We do not take any options off the table, we don't know how the situation will develop, it would be unwise to do that. But our approach is 100% diplomatically and economically focused to bring Iran to the negotiating table.”

Hague’s comments come after the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, also warned against an Israeli pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS to air on Sunday and of which portions were released Saturday, Dempsey said, “I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military action was upon us.”

He added that “the economic sanctions and international cooperation that we’ve been able to gather around sanctions is beginning to have an effect. I think our diplomacy is having an effect and our preparedness. Fundamentally we have to be prepared and that includes, for the most part at this point, being prepared defensively.”

Dempsey said that the U.S. is “of an opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor and it’s for that reason, I think, that we think the current path on Iran is the most prudent path at this point.”

The United States has been increasingly concerned that Israel may launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. For this reason, Dempsey visited Israel last month and met with high-ranking officials on the issue. 

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, recently said he has concerns there could be a military conflict with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Asked if he feared Israel could launch an attack against Iran, Clegg said, “Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict and that certain countries might seek to take matters into their own hands.”