Hague calls for tough Iran sanctions

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Britain should not rule out military action against Iran, the shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said yesterday. Tougher economic sanctions should be used to raise the "peaceful pressure" against the country to force it to abandon any plans for developing nuclear weapons, he urged.

In a speech to the Chatham House foreign affairs think-tank, he said: "In years to come, we may look back on the next few months as a crucial time in which the international community showed, or failed to show, its resolve."

The United Nations imposed a ban on exports of materials that could aid nuclear and missile development in December, as it froze the assets of certain firms in Iran, but Mr Hague said he believes these limited sanctions were "insufficiently worrying to the Iranians".

The US has imposed financial sanctions against the country in response to the nuclear enrichment programme and Tehran's alleged involvement in Iraqi sectarian violence.

Mr Hague said: "If Iran proceeds with the development of nuclear enrichment and then the production of a nuclear bomb... it is highly likely that other nations in the Middle East would follow suit. The dangers we... face in future decades would multiply rapidly."