Frist says military action a possibility against Iran

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Saturday night that the United States must be prepared to take military action against Iran if nonviolent means don't deter the country from building nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it wants to enrich uranium only to make nuclear fuel for generating electricity. But concerns that it might misuse the technology led the International Atomic Energy Agency on Saturday to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

The United States has long advocated Security Council action against Iran, including possible political and economic sanctions, which have not yet occurred.

Asked whether Congress had the political will to use military force against Iran if necessary, First said: "The answer is yes, absolutely."

"We cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear nation," Frist told reporters at the Missouri GOP's annual Lincoln Days conference. "We need to use diplomatic sanctions. If that doesn't work, economic sanctions, and if that doesn't work, the potential for military use has to be on the table."

Frist also defended a program in President Bush's administration that allowed the government to eavesdrop, without warrants, on international calls and e-mails in the United States that were believed to be terrorist-related.

As Senate majority leader, the Tennessee senator said he was one of eight people in Congress who were "fully briefed" on the program. He said Democrats who criticize it do so at their own political peril.

"The program is constitutional, it is lawful and it is absolutely imperative for the safety and security of people in Missouri and people around this country," Frist said.