Republican Thompson Highlights Serious Iran Threat

London (Reuters) – Tougher sanctions or a blockade on Iran could help foment growing internal dissent to topple the government, former U.S. Republican senator Fred Thompson, a potential presidential candidate, said on Tuesday.
Military action must always remain an option and world powers must agree on the nature of what Thompson called the “very, very serious threat” from Tehran.

Thompson, who has taken an early step toward a 2008 presidential bid for the Republicans, suggested most Europeans did not view the threat from “radical Islamic fundamentalism” with the same gravity as most Americans.

Iran’s poor economy and domestic opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could prompt “regime change”, Thompson said.

“We have a lot of friends in Iran who apparently feel their leader is trying to drive them off of a militant, religious extremism cliff,” he said.

“Some of these problems might work in our favour especially if we ratcheted the sanctions a bit more. I would think that certainly a blockade would be a possibility if we could get the international cooperation to do that.

“I think regime change might be an option … but you can’t take the military option off the table.” Thompson, an actor, answered questions after giving a speech in London.

Iran is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear programme which Washington fears could lead to Tehran building atomic bombs. Two sets of sanctions have been imposed and the United States says “all options are on the table” for dealing with Iran. Thompson is exploring a presidential bid and is expected to formally enter the White House race in July. His expected candidacy has been fuelled in part by conservative dissatisfaction with the 10 candidates vying to win the Republican nomination and he has risen to the top of polls.

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