Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Thursday he has concerns there could be a military conflict with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, refusing to say whether or not Britain would "participate" in such a clash.
Clegg was quoted as telling The House Magazine, a weekly British political journal, that he feared Israel could carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran amid suspicion in the West that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Tensions have been heightened over Iran’s intentions, leading UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to warn Israel that the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program must be resolved peacefully.
Asked if he feared Israel could launch an attack against Iran, Clegg — leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior member of Britain’s coalition government, acknowledged he had concerns.
“Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict and that certain countries might seek to take matters into their own hands,” Clegg was quoted as saying.
He said Britain had been attempting to demonstrate “that there are very tough things we can do which are not military steps in order to place pressure on Iran.”
Last week, the European Union agreed to tougher sanctions, including an embargo on Iranian oil imports.
However, Clegg said he would not speculate on whether “Britain would participate” if the standoff eventually led to a military response.
“I think of course you don’t in a situation like this take any options off the table,” Clegg was quoted as saying. “When you are in a major standoff with a country which appears to have a sort of hostile intent on these issues, of course you don’t do that. But equally we have been very very clear that we are straining every single sinew to resolve this through a combination of pressure and engagement.”
Iran has in recent weeks claimed it is ready to resume talks with six world powers over its nuclear program.
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