Reasonable chance to curb Iran`s nuclear ambition: US

The US said it felt that there was a "reasonable chance" to contain Tehran from going nuclear through UN sanctions.

Updated: Jun 20, 2010, 23:18 PM IST

Washington: While all options are on the
table to curb Iran`s atomic programme, the US Sunday said it
felt that there was a "reasonable chance" to contain Tehran
from going nuclear through UN sanctions.

"I think you have a reasonable chance of getting the
Iranian regime finally to come to their senses and realise
their security is probably more endangered by going forward,
thereby stepping them," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told
Fox News.

When asked if a nuclear Iran can be contained, Gates
said: "I don`t think we`re prepared to even talk about
containing a nuclear Iran. I think our view still is we do not
accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons. Our policies
and our efforts are all aimed at preventing that from
happening," he said.

"When you say that we would not accept a nuclear Iran,
does that mean that a military strike either by the US or
Israel is preferable to a nuclear Iran?? Gates was asked.

"We obviously leave all options on the table. I think
we have some time to continue working this problem," he
responded.

Observing that government in Iran has a much narrower
base than it was earlier, Gates said that the country appears
to be moving more in a direction of a military dictatorship.

"What we`ve seen is a change in the nature of the
regime in Tehran over the past 18 months or so. You have a
much narrower based government in Tehran now. Many of the
religious figures are being set aside," Gates told Fox News.

"As Secretary (of State, Hillary) Clinton has said,
they appear to be moving more in the direction of a military
dictatorship. (Ayatollah) Khamenei is leaning on a smaller and
smaller group of advisors," Gates said.

"In the meantime, you have an illegitimate election
that has divided the country. So I think adding economic
pressures on top of that, and particularly targeted economic
pressures, has real potential," he said.

The recent UN Security Council Resolution that imposed
additional sanctions on Iran, Gates said would add to the
pressure on Tehran.

"I think that it could add to the pressures on the
regime, that if you add the things we`re doing to help our
allies in the gulf area improve their defences, improve their
military capabilities, you put that together with sanctions,
you put that together with diplomatic pressures and a variety
of other things that are going on," he said.

Iran is under mounting international pressure over its
controversial nuclear programme of uranium enrichment which
the West fears masks a covert weapons drive.

The Islamic republic vehemently denies the charge,
saying that its nuclear programme is for energy purposes.

PTI