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Cheney: U.S. won’t allow Iran nuclear weapons

By Matthew Barakat
Associated Press Writer

LEESBURG, Va. — The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.

“Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions,” Cheney said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

He said Iran’s efforts to pursue technology that would allow them to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that “the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time.”

If Iran continues on its current course, Cheney said the U.S. and other nations are “prepared to impose serious consequences.” The vice president made no specific reference to military action.

“We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Cheney’s words seemed to only escalate the U.S. rhetoric against Iran over the past several days, including President Bush’s warning that a nuclear Iran could lead to “World War III.”

Cheney said the ultimate goal of the Iranian leadership is to establish itself as the hegemonic force in the Middle East and undermine a free Shiite-majority Iraq as a rival for influence in the Muslim world.

Iran’s government seeks “to keep Iraq in a state of weakness to ensure Baghdad does not pose a threat to Tehran,” Cheney said.

While he was critical of that government and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, he offered praise and words of solidarity to the Iranian people. Iran “is a place of unlimited potential ... and it has the right to be free of tyranny,” Cheney said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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