London: British Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that “intensifying” tensions with Iran could spark crisis that would destabilise the entire Middle East unless Tehran abandons its nuclear enrichment programme.
During an interview with The Telegraph, Hague expressed concerns that Iran`s actions could spark a nuclear arms race, and called on the Iranian government to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the growing confrontation.
“We do have to confront this problem, because Iran has embarked on a course which threatens the whole region of the Middle East with nuclear proliferation,” the paper quoted Hague, as saying.
“It is an intensifying problem that we have over their nuclear programme. And so there is a risk that this will become a greater crisis as 2012 goes on,” he added.
Hague’s comments came as the European Union is preparing to agree an embargo on Iranian oil in eight days`` time, in response to Iran’s decision to step up its efforts to produce the materials for a nuclear weapon.
Hague said that Britain was not calling for military action, and stressed that they “believe in intensifying the peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran”.
“We don’t take any options off the table in the long term... We believe in intensifying the peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran – so that’s what people will see much more of over the coming weeks,” the paper quoted Hague, as saying.
“We must not be starry-eyed about sanctions – sanctions policies do not always succeed. But this is the best means we have of increasing the pressure. And Iran is getting itself into a more and more difficult situation, steadily losing friends and support around the world,” Hague said.
“Its economy is in a more and more fragile position, and of course what it is doing on its nuclear programme will only increase these tensions and difficulties,” he added.