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Hoon unaware of US reconnaissance missions in Iran

London, March 15, IRNA-Britain's Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon denied Tuesday that he was aware of any US reconnaissance missions inside Iran.

Asked by the Times newspaper whether he had heard anything about US troops being involved in secret intelligence operations to identify potential Iranian nuclear targets, Hoon replied with a deadpan "No" to shut out further questioning.

US award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh claimed in the New Yorker magazine in January that American reconnaissance missions have been going on in Iran since at least last summer.

But in his interview with the Times, Britain's defense secretary for the past five-and-a-half years played down veiled US threats to attack Iran.

"I really don't think that's on the agenda," he insisted when asked if he would be prepared to help the US invade Iran if he remained in his post after the UK general election expected in May.

"We have discussions with the US about how to handle Iran, as we have discussions with our EU partners. The way in which we have dealt with different threats has been different," Hoon said.

The use of military action against Iran has also been played down by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, but no one in the British government has yet stated that they would deter any Israeli strikes.

Hoon, who committed British soldiers into action in Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, insisted he did not know why former foreign secretary Robin Cook said in his dairies that he could try a "little harder to conceal his relish" for war.

"I don't think I have ever relished a military solution. Because, probably more than any other colleague, I see the consequences," he told the paper.

... Payvand News - 3/15/05 ... --

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