Blair: Nuking Iran Would Be Absurd

Mon May 8, 8:37 AM ET

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair says that any consideration of a nuclear attack against Iran would be "absolutely absurd," and said the issue had no bearing on his decision to demote his foreign secretary.

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, had described alleged U.S. contingency plans for a tactical nuclear strike against Iran as "completely nuts."

Blair previously had avoided any condemnation of the idea and defended the right of President Bush to hold all options in reserve in the showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

Some analysts believed that differences over Iran led to Blair's decision on Friday to move Straw to the less-exalted position of leader of the House of Commons.

Asked at a news conference whether he shared Straw's view of any thought of a nuclear strike, Blair said: "I don't know anybody who has even talked or contemplated the prospect of a nuclear strike in Iran and that would be absolutely absurd, which may be a different way of saying what you have just quoted to me.

"But it (Straw's reassignment) has got nothing to do with that. Look, in the end I'm afraid as prime minister you do reshuffle your Cabinet from time to time."

U.S. officials — from Bush on down — have left open the possibility of a military response if Iran does not end its nuclear ambitions. Several reports published Sunday said the administration was studying options for military strikes; one account raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Iran's underground nuclear sites.

The New Yorker magazine reported last month that the United States had intensified planning for a possible major air attack and that one option envisioned the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon to insure the destruction of Iran's main centrifuge plant.

That report provoked Straw's strong response.