US VP Cheney calls Iran an obstacle to peace

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LANDSDOWNE, Va, Oct 21 (Reuters) US Vice President Dick Cheney, taking a tough line toward Iran, described the country's government today as a ''growing obstacle to peace in West Asia.'' Cheney, in a speech to a think tank, also accused Tehran of practicing ''delay and deception'' regarding its nuclear program and warned of consequences if it did not comply with the West's demands that it halt sensitive nuclear work.

The US vice president's harsh rhetoric toward Tehran came just a few days after President George W Bush warned that nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three.

The Bush administration has been trying to rally support for a tighter international sanctions but faces difficulties amid Russian resistance.

Cheney said that progress toward peace and stability in the Middle East would depend on responsible conduct by countries in the region, including respect for neighbors' sovereignty and compliance with international agreements.

''If you apply all these measures it becomes immediately clear that the government Iran falls far short and is a growing obstacle to peace in West Asia,'' Cheney told the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

REUTERS GL KN2255

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