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UK must not be 'conned' again by the US over Iran, warns Cook

Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook warned Friday that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government must "not be suckered a second time" by the US over Iran as it was over the war against Iraq, IRNA reported from London.

"Britain was conned into a war to disarm a phantom threat in which not even our major ally really believed," he said in relation to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims that Saddam Hussein's banned weapons may have been destroyed before the invasion of Iraq.

"The truth is that the US chose to attack Iraq not because it posed a threat, but because they knew it was weak and expected its military to collapse," said Cook, who resigned from his cabinet post as House of Commons leader in protest against the war.

The former foreign secretary was responding to what he called the Bush Administration's "blanket hostility to Iran" following the Iraq war, saying that Rumsfeld's "latest sabre-rattling" was consistent with the "one dimensional character" of his world view.

In an article for the Independent newspaper Friday, he spoke of the British government being left in an "uncomfortable position" now that the US felt it did not "need to keep up the pretence" that it fought the war against Iraq to deliver disbarment.

"The more time passes, the greater the gulf will widen between the obliging candour on the US side that they never was a weapons threat and the desperate obfuscation on the British side that we might still find one," Cook warned.

He suggested that the time had come when the British government needed to concede that the war was not because Saddam was a threat to the US national interests but "for reasons of US foreign policy and Republican politics."

"One advantage of such clarity is that it would help prevent us from being suckered a second time" over Iran, the former Foreign Secretary said.

He referred to the British policy of constructive engagement with Iran, which he helped to initiate after Blair's Labour government came to power in 1997, as making "sense" in securing reforms in Iran.

"This time we must make clear to the White House that we are not going to subordinate Britain's interests to a US policy of confrontation. Iran must not become the next Iraq," Cook warned.

... Payvand News - 5/30/03 ... --

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