Hehe, they are all falling in line......Is Bush a great leader or what? EU Backs Possible Use of Force Against WMD Threats
|36 minutes ago|
By Paul Taylor
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union ( news - web sites ), in a significant shift toward U.S. thinking, said on Monday use of force might be necessary where diplomacy failed to address threats from weapons of mass destruction.
EU foreign ministers adopted a strategy to combat the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons for the first time, including a reference to possible military action as a last resort against states or "terrorists" that acquired such arms.
They also demanded that Iran, accused by Washington of trying to develop atomic arms, accept tougher U.N. inspections of its nuclear program immediately and unconditionally if it wants a trade deal with the 15-nation bloc.
The EU said preventive measures such as treaties, dialogue and inspections should be the first line of defense against the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons.
But "when these measures (including political dialogue and diplomatic pressure) have failed, coercive measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter and international law (sanctions, selective or global, interceptions of shipments and, as appropriate, the use of force) could be envisioned," it said.
Ministers endorsed the strategy, coupled with an action plan giving the fight against WMD priority in EU relations with third countries, on the day they voiced serious concern at aspects of Iran's nuclear program.
But Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who chaired the meeting, insisted the reference to possible use of force was not related to the separate statement on Iran.
Diplomats said the moves were part of an EU drive to take the WMD threat more seriously and repair transatlantic relations after a severe rift over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ( news - web sites).
The EU document did, however, insist that action should be approved by the United Nations ( news - web sites ), whose Security Council it said "should play a central role."
"The role of the U.N. Security Council, as the final arbiter on the consequences of non-compliance...needs to be effectively strengthened," it said.
Among key measures in the plan were boosting the budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency, tightening export controls and strengthening multilateral verification regimes.
The United States and Britain gave weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for attacking Iraq without explicit U.N. approval. No such weapons have been found more than two months after Baghdad fell to U.S. troops.
A senior EU diplomat said the new WMD policy, part of a wider European security strategy under construction, showed the Europeans were "getting real" about what the Bush administration has defined as the greatest threats to international security.
The EU would present its action plan at a summit with the United States in Washington on June 25 and seek U.S. backing for a strengthening of multilateral arms control bodies, viewed with suspicion by Bush administration hawks.
After years of privately belittling the risk of terrorists acquiring such arms, the EU document said: "The acquisition of WMD or related materials by terrorists would represent an additional threat to the international system with potentially uncontrollable consequences."
The "Basic principles for an EU strategy against proliferation of WMD" did not name individual countries but referred obliquely to Israel, India and Pakistan, nuclear weapons states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.