Cheney: U.S., Other Nations Won't Let Iran Get Nuclear Arms

By Matthew Barakat
Associated Press
Monday, October 22, 2007

The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Cheney said yesterday.

"Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions," Cheney said in a speech at a Washington think tank's conference, meeting at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg.

He said that Tehran's efforts to pursue technology that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon are obvious, and that "the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time."

If Iran continues on its course, Cheney said, the United States and other nations are "prepared to impose serious consequences." He made no specific reference to military action.

"We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," he said.

Cheney's words, delivered at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Weinberg Founders Conference, seemed to continue an escalation of U.S. rhetoric against Iran over the past several days, including President Bush's warning Wednesday that a nuclear Iran could lead to "World War III."

Bush's spokeswoman said he was not making any war plans, but rather "a rhetorical point."

Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the United States has the resources to attack Iran if needed, despite the strains of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mullen added that striking Iran is a last resort, and that the focus is on diplomacy to stem Iran's nuclear ambitions, but "there is more than enough reserve to respond" militarily if need be.

Cheney said Iran's leaders ultimately want to establish themselves as the hegemonic force in the Middle East and undermine a free Shiite-majority Iraq as a rival for influence in the Muslim world.

While critical of Tehran's government and of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he offered praise and words of solidarity to the Iranian people. Iran "is a place of unlimited potential . . . and it has the right to be free of tyranny," Cheney said.

Cheney accused Iran of having a direct role in the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and said the government has "solidified its grip on the country" since coming to power in 1979.

The United States and some allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt uranium enrichment, an important step in the production of atomic weapons. Oil-rich Iran says that its program is for peaceful purposes.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company