Hasan Suroor

LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday warned Iran that it was making a "big miscalculation'' by what he described as "defying'' the international opinion on its controversial nuclear programme.

To questions at his monthly Downing Street press conference, Mr. Blair called Iranian President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks as "worrying'' and justified western threats of tougher sanctions. Any sign of weakness by the international community would be "fatal'', he said.

Mr. Blair played down talk of military action and said everybody was looking for a political solution. Asked if the west was willing to talk to Iran to resolve the dispute, he said: "We're happy to talk... but what are we going to talk about?''

What was the point of talking, if Iran was not willing to suspend its nuclear programme, he asked accusing Iran of "defying'' the international community.

His remarks came as diplomats from five permanent member-countries of the Security Council and Germany discussed in London tougher measures in the light of the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Tehran had failed to meet a U.N. deadline for suspending its nuclear activities.