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Senator doubts military option to be used on Iran

Reuters | April 13 2006

A member of the powerful U.S. Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Intelligence said on Thursday he doubted whether the United States would use military force to settle a row with Iran over its nuclear program.

Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, said during a visit to Pakistan that military action was "not a viable, feasible option".

"I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue," Hagel told a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, stressing that he was speaking for himself rather than the Senate or the Bush administration.

Hagel said President George W. Bush and senior members of his cabinet had said the military option was not a responsible approach to resolving the issues.

"I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option," he added.

Hagel, who met President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, said he had discussed Iran with Pakistani officials.

Pakistan opposes the use of force against its fellow Muslim neighbor.

"Iran is a complicated issue. I think that a responsible approach to these challenges is to work closely with our friends and allies, in this case Pakistan, with the United Nations, with the IAEA," he said, referring to the Internation Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

"I believe a political settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement. All these issues will require a political settlement," Hagel said.

In response to a question about whether a U.S. offer to supply rival India with civil nuclear technology would ever be extended to Pakistan, Hagel did not rule out the eventuality.

"There may well be a future agreement between Pakistan and the U.S.," Hagel said.

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