Iran can leave World Cup over nuclear program

A leading British politician said Friday that Iran should be expelled from the soccer World Cup for resuming its controversial nuclear program. Conservative lawmaker Michael Ancram said exclusion from soccer's biggest tournament "would give a very, very clear signal to Iran that the international community will not accept what they are doing."

"It may be unpleasant, but you can give a very hard signal which isn't going to hurt people as such but is going to at least give a chance of registering in the minds of the Iranian people that what their president is doing is unacceptable to the international community," Ancram, a former Tory foreign-affairs spokesman, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Soccer's governing body, FIFA, said last month it would not expel Iran from the June 9-July 9 World Cup finals in Germany despite calls from German politicians for it to be excluded because the Iranian president denies the Holocaust. Iran has come under increasing pressure to cease nuclear activities until an agreement has been reached on the scope of its nuclear program. Tehran insists it wants only to develop nuclear energy, but there are widespread fears Iran is seeking atomic weapons. Britain, France and Germany announced Thursday that nuclear talks with Iran had reached a dead end after more than two years of acrimonious negotiations and that the issue should be referred to the U.N. Security Council. In a separate interview, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "not certain" sports sanctions against Iran would help, reports the AP. N.U.

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