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Blair challenged on any US deal to attack Iran

London, April 23, IRNA-Prime Minister Tony Blair is being challenged during Britain's general election campaign whether he has made any secret deal with the US to join in any attack on Iran similar to his alleged undertaking ahead of the Iraq war.

"The prime minister pledged George Bush his support for regime change in Iraq a year before military action took place," the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Menzies Campbell said.

"What private assurances, if any, have been given on Iran?" he asked. "There is impatience in Washington with the European diplomatic initiative and some analysts have even predicted a strike on Iran within 18 months," he said.

The issue was raised during campaigning on Friday ahead of Liberal Democrat plans next to highlight the party's opposition to the Iraq war as part of its strategy to gain more votes at the general election on May 5.

In its election manifesto, the Liberal Democrats Thursday made a firm commitment that Britain must not support any more illegal military intervention like Iraq.

Campbell, who is the party's shadow foreign secretary, referred to the apparent difference in approach between Blair and his foreign secretary on the issue.

"Jack Straw has said military action against Iran is 'inconceivable'. The prime minister has said 'there are no plans'.

What exactly is the government's position?" he asked.

"There is a world of difference between 'inconceivable' and 'no plans' as experience readily demonstrates," the Liberal Democrat deputy leader said.

"The foreign secretary's confidential warnings to the prime minister, in 2002, about the dangers of invading Iraq, were ignored then. What warning is he giving now?" he asked.

"The risks of military action are clear. A strike could provoke fearsome retaliation, could destabilize the Middle East, and undermine reform in Iran," Campbell warned.

According to the Guardian newspaper Saturday, a paper circulating among defence think-tanks and non-government organizations, a detailed Pentagon plan for military strikes on Iran could be presented to Bush in June this year.

The Liberal Democrats, which have 54 MPs in the 659-seat House of Commons, is hoping to capitalize in the elections on being the only major party to have opposed the Iraq war.

In three by-elections held in the past two years, the party sensationally won two traditional Labour seats and narrowly failed to take the third.

During the election campaign, peace campaigners have also been petitioning Blair and other party leaders to make a pledge that they will not support a US-led attack against Iran or Syria after the elections.

"It is vital that this is made a key issue in the election campaign," said Our World Our Say, a non-affiliated organization leading the campaign. "The fact is that once elections are out of the way we may be bounced into supporting a US attack," it warned.

... Payvand News - 4/23/05 ... --

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