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NATO "has no intention of intervening in Iran"

The US and other leading Western governments believe that Iran is intending to develop a nuclear arsenal. Iran has warned the US not to set them on “a collision course”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during the monthly NATO media briefing in Brussels yesterday
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during the monthly NATO media briefing in Brussels yesterday
Image: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

NATO HAS NO intention of intervening in Iran, the alliance’s top official has said.

The US and other leading Western governments believe that Iran is intending to develop a nuclear arsenal, and Tehran’s failure to suspend its nuclear activities has already led to several sets of UN sanctions.

Today, Iran warned the US not to set the two countries on a collision course over the nuclear programme in Tehran, the Guardian reports.

The paper also said that the UK was putting together contingency plans that would involve joingin American forces in a possible campaign against Iran.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is exclusively civilian, aimed only at producing electricity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly trying to persuade his Cabinet to authorise a strike.

Israel successfully tested a missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran on Wednesday.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO supports political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue and urged Iran to comply with UN resolutions and stop its uranium enrichment programs.

However, he declined to comment on reports that Israeli air force jets conducted drills last week at a NATO air base in Italy.

Yesterday, Italian Defence Ministry spokesman Capt Emiliano Biasco confirmed that an exercise involving Israel and other countries was held at Decimomannu in late October. He declined to give more details.

NATO cooperates closely with Israel as part of a group of friendly nations in the region, known as the Mediterranean Dialogue.

Fogh Rasmussen visited the Jewish state earlier this year.

Tensions in the Middle East have peaked just after Turkey — a NATO member and Iran’s neighbour — agreed in September to host an early warning radar as part of a planned NATO missile defense system aimed at countering a possible threat from Iranian missiles.

Iran has blamed Israel and the United States for disruptions in its nuclear program, including the mysterious assassinations of a string of Iranian nuclear scientists and a computer virus that wiped out some of Iran’snuclear centrifuges.

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Tehran has also insisted that the international community deal with the issue of Israel’s own nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, a new poll has shown that Israelis are evenly divided over whether their country should carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

Forty-one per cent of those questioned by the Dialog polling institute said they would back an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

A similar number — 39 per cent — oppose such an attack while 20 per cent were undecided.

- Additional reporting by AP

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