Powell: Iran is a long way from having nuclear weapon
The Associated Press
Published: November 18, 2007
KUWAIT CITY: Iran is a long way from acquiring a nuclear weapon and is "foolish" for not investing its resources in its people instead of a nuclear program, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.
"I think Iran is a long way from having anything that could be anything like a nuclear weapon," Powell told a gathering of bankers, businessmen and diplomats.
Tehran rejects claims by the United States and some European Union countries that its nuclear program is aimed at secretly producing weapons and insists it is for peaceful purposes only.
"I think the Iranians are being very foolish," Powell said. "When I look at Iran, I see the needs they have. They have not globalized, they have not come up in the international economic community. They are faced with 40 percent unemployment."
Powell was invited by the National Bank of Kuwait to speak on economic opportunity and crisis in the Middle East.
A report released last week by the United Nation's nuclear watchdog agency found Iran has been generally truthful in the information it has provided the agency about aspects of its past nuclear activities. But the International Atomic Energy Agency said it still could not rule out that Iran had a secret weapons program because of restrictions Tehran placed on its inspectors two years ago.
Asked if he sees a U.S. war on Iran coming, the retired U.S. general said although no American official will say that the option was "off the table," he did not see prospects of a military conflict with the Islamic republic.
There was no base of support among the American people for such action which would be widely condemned, Powell said, adding the U.S. military has enough on its hands in Iraq and Afghanistan to get involved in another conflict.