Annan: It would be 'disastrous' to take military action against Iran
In farewell news conference, outgoing UN chief calls failure to prevent Iraq war his worst moment in post.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a farewell news conference, urged the Security Council on Tuesday to push for a negotiated end to the Iranian nuclear crisis, saying military action would be a disaster.
"I believe that the council, which is discussing the issue, will proceed cautiously and try and do whatever it can to get a negotiated settlement for the sake of the region and for the sake of the world," Annan said.
Addressing reporters less than two weeks before he steps down on Dec. 31, Annan was asked the lessons to be learned from Iraq, where the United States led an invasion in March 2003 in a fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction despite failing to gain the council's approval.
Annan noted there was concern over whether there could be another military operation aimed at Iran over its refusal to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities, as demanded by the Security Council and the UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
"I don't think we are there yet, or we should go in that direction," he said concerning possible military action. "I think it would be rather unwise and disastrous."
A divided Security Council is negotiating a second resolution put forward by Britain, France and Germany that would impose sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program. Iran says it wants only to produce electricity but Western powers say they fear Iran is using a domestic nuclear energy program as a cover for bomb-making.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax on Tuesday that the latest version proposed by the three European powers had to a large extent taken into account Moscow's concerns about an earlier version.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told a news conference in Paris he was cautiously optimistic that a resolution could be adopted this week.
Council members were meeting twice on Tuesday in various groupings to discuss the draft.
Annan, who turns the UN leadership over to South Korean Ban Ki-moon on January 1, said he saw the failure to prevent the Iraq war as the worst moment of his 10 years as UN leader.
"I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said of the invasion, which led to a series of later clashes with the George W. Bush administration over the appropriate role of the United Nations.