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Germany

Germans Mull Road Ahead as UN Deadline for Iran Passes

Iran's defiance of Friday's UN deadline to freeze its nuclear program has caused strong reactions in Germany: While some called for stiff sanctions, others have urged Russia and China to play a more pro-active role.

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Ahmadinejad's refusal to bow to UN pressure has caused mixed reactions in Germany

German politicians have been unanimous in rejecting Iran's defiant position in the conflict over its nuclear program. Tehran's decision to ignore a UN ultimatum to freeze its nuclear enrichment work was described as irresponsible and a slap in the face of the international community.

In the search for solutions to the standoff, Wolfgang Gerhardt, a foreign policy expert from the opposition liberal Free Democrats, said Russia and China must play a more pro-active role now.

"We can only stop Tehran if Russia and China come to realize that they can no longer stand on the sidelines in this dispute," he said. "Within the next few days it is crucial that these countries drive home to Iran that it will definitely face punitive action if it continues down this path of confrontation."

Ingo Friedrich, a member of the conservative CSU party also believes that Moscow and Beijing must now come forward to step up international pressure on Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He thinks that efforts within the United Nations aimed at imposing sanctions must be intensified.

"It is now a matter of credibility for the United Nations to impose sanctions," he said. "Iran must be made to understand that it cannot defy demands by the international community without punishment."

Military actio n u n likely

As the conflict is heating up, the prospect of a military confrontation is looming ever larger. Washington hasn't ruled out the use of military force to stop Iran building nuclear weapons.

But Ullrich Klose, foreign policy spokesman of the Social Democrats said he believes this is just empty rhetoric. He added that he is rather pessimistic about a positive outcome of the conflict.

"People say the conflict will develop similar to what we saw in Iraq," Klose said. "I don't think this will happen because the United States have had a bad time of it there and a war with Iran would overstretch the country's capabilities. So in the end we'll either have a political solution or face the situation that Iran continues its nuclear program unfazed."

Public anger in Germany about the Mullah regime in Tehran has been fuelled recently after Ahamadinejad said he wanted to visit Germany to attend one of Iran's World Cup soccer matches this summer. German politicians such as CSU leader Edmund Stoiber have vowed to do everything in their power to prevent that.

"Someone who denounces the Holocaust as a lie and who rejects Israel's right to exist is certainly not welcome in Germany," he said.

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