Former British PM says 'we have to get our head out of the sand' because Islamic Republic 'disagrees fundamentally with our way of life and will carry on unless met with determination and, if necessary, force'
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the West to be prepared to confront Iran with force in order to face the "looming and coming challenge" from Tehran, French news agency AFP reported on Saturday.
"It (Iran) has to be confronted and changed. Iran is a looming challenge. It is negative and destabilizing. It supports terrorists," Blair said Friday at the Chilcot inquiry, the British inquiry into the war in Iraq.
"I say this to you with all of the passion I possibly can -- at some point the West has to get out of what I think is a wretched policy or posture of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing," said Blair, who serves as the Quartet envoy to the Middle East.
"We have to get our head out of the sand. They disagree fundamentally with our way of life and will carry on unless met with determination and, if necessary, force."
Blair added that he could see the "impact and the influence of Iran everywhere."
Iran and six world powers meet again in Istanbul Saturday amid stiff resistance by Tehran to demands for discussion of its nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons.
Tehran denies that it wants nuclear arms, insisting it wants only to make peaceful nuclear energy for its rising population. But concerns have grown - because its uranium enrichment program could also make fissile warhead material, because of its nuclear secrecy and also because the Islamic Republic refuses to cooperate with UN attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran experiments related to making nuclear weapons.
While the six want the two-days of talks focused at freezing Iran's uranium enrichment program, Tehran has repeatedly said this activity is not up for discussion. Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that covers just about everything except its nuclear program: global disarmament, Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran's concerns about US military bases in Iraq and elsewhere.