British Prime Minister David Cameron rebuked voices pushing for a war on Iran, in an interview aired Thursday night, saying that now the world should be talking about economic sanctions instead of a military strike on the Islamic Republic.
“I don’t think as we stand today that military action by Israel would be justified. I don’t think the Israelis should take that action now. We told them they shouldn’t and said we wouldn’t support it if they did,” Cameron told NBC’s Brian Williams.
This is not the first time Britain has called for Israel to slow the drumbeats toward an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, though his words this time came only a day after US President Barack Obama made clear, in a joint press conference with Cameron, that the window for diplomacy was shrinking.
The interview was taped before Cameron’s meeting with Obama on Wednesday.
Israel and most of the West believe Iran’s nuclear program is for military purposes, though Tehran maintains it is peaceful. A number of reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency recently have called that claim into question. IAEA head Yukiya Amano recently said activity at one nuclear site was “suspicious.”
Cameron said he had hope Iran could transform into a country with more normal relations with the rest of the world once it gave up its nuclear program.
“I don’t support action now because, frankly, we’ve got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path. They can have civil nuclear power, if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power, they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world,” he said.
Economic sanctions on Iran were bolstered Thursday when the SWIFT electronic bank transfer system announced it would end cooperation with Iranian banks being targeted by the European Union. The move is expected to significantly cripple Tehran’s finances.
Cameron added that, like the US, Britain was not willing to rule out any action should sanctions fail.
“We take nothing off the table. Britain is very clear just as America is. We don’t rule out taking action or supporting action, but that’s not where we are right now. Right now, turn up the pressure. Get Iranians to think again.”