The US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton,  told BBC radio that launching a military campaign on Iran “has to be an option”.

But he stressed that it was one among many other possibilities and relatively low down the agenda.

“The president has repeatedly said that all options are on the table, but that is not only our preference it is far, far from our minds”, Bolton said.

Solana and other EU leaders
want Iran to be "transparent"
Bolton’s comments came as the European Union is set to warn Iran and North Korea on Friday over their nuclear programmes,

A draft of a final statement to be issued by EU leaders meeting in Greece urged Iran to sign an additional protocol to the key Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “so as to restore much needed confidence”.

The additional protocol allows wider and surprise inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.

The draft voiced the EU leaders’ concern at Iran’s declared intention to complete the nuclear fuel cycle, saying Tehran must be “fully transparent… in all its nuclear activities”.


Putin positive

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has been informed – by sources he did not reveal – that Iran was willing to sign the additional protocol. 

“According to information that we have in hand, the leadership of Iran is ready to join all protocols, to all demands of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), concerning control of (Iran’s) nuclear programme”, he said.

 

Putin said Russia would build its relations with any country, including Iran based on their openness in relation to the IAEA.

 

Russia is helping Iran construct a nuclear plant in the southern city of Bushehr.

 

“Two days ago I spoke to President (Mohammed) Khatami, under his own initiative, and he once again confirmed that Iran had no plans to develop nuclear weapons”, Putin told a press conference in Moscow.

  

Appeal to N Korea

 

The EU draft, which is still being considered by the EU leaders meeting later on Friday, also urged North Korea “to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear programmes".

 

The draft said Pyongyang should “return to full compliance with international non-proliferation obligations”.

 

The 15-member European Union is working to endorse a new strategy to fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

 

On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran to unconditionally allow stricter inspections.

 

Iran has so far rejected the demands of the IAEA.

 

“We keep on saying to Iran that they have to sign the additional protocol and to comply with the IAEA”, said EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

 

The EU position on Iran comes amid massive US pressure on the Islamic republic over its nuclear plans.

 

The US accuses Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

 

Iran denies the accusation.

 

On Wednesday, President George W Bush urged the international community to make clear “we will not tolerate” construction of a nuclear weapon.

 

Bush has labelled Iran in an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Iraq that was led by ousted President Saddam Husssein.