The idea that the US is at present contemplating some kind of military strike against Iran is in the realm of "wild fantasies," Blair said.
But in an interview with the Financial Times, he sent conflicting signals by not ruling out an eventual US attack on Iran's facilities when replying 'Yes' to whether it may be theoretically the only way to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The British premier was also seen distancing himself from his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who last year insisted that US military action was "inconceivable."
Straw last week also published a dossier on international efforts over the past two years to establish with confidence whether Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, in which he proposed a "negotiated solution" as the best way forward.
"What we are saying is, in respect of Iran, the position we have laid down is the position that has got to be adhered to," Blair told the Financial Times.
He sent further mixed signals by suggesting that Iran's genuine compliance would see the US backing the diplomatic rapprochement with Tehran fostered by Britain, France and Germany.
"American policy is for America," the British premier insisted. "But if the Iranians keep to the deal, if they do actually keep to that, then of course that makes a difference in international attitudes to them," he said.
He came back to the argument made by George Bush in his inaugural speech in which he was unashamedly supportive of the US president's vows of "ending tyranny" and expanding freedom around the world.
"I am prepared to be very, very pragmatic about how you help countries to make progress, how you offer a partnership to countries, how you say: 'Look, if you signal that you are prepared to change, we are prepared to help you change,'" Blair said.
He suggested that he saw a positive move by Bush away from pre- emptive strikes, saying, "They know, too, that you can't just go round invading every country that you think should be a democracy."
"What you can, however, do is to say that you are going to encourage people to become more democratic and more open," the prime minister said.
He also said he thought that Western foreign policy had learned enough from its tradition of believing that the nature of the regime did not matter provided it was friendly by realizing "actually that does not work."
The confusion on Britain's policy towards Iran was added to by European Minister Denis MacShane reverting back to voicing "serious concerns about Iran's nuclear progra," in a written parliamentary answer published Wednesday while Straw was out of the country.
"The government believes that to restore confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program it is essential for Iran to agree, as part of this process, to cease permanently all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities," he insisted.
... Payvand News - 1/26/05 ... --