Straw says Iran nuclear standoff is test for relevance of international diplomacy

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday ruled out the threat of military action against Iran, but said how the world deals with the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program will be a test for the relevance of international diplomacy.

In an annual speech delivered at London's Mansion House, Straw said failure to seek a resolution through international institutions could lead to their long-term damage.

"This is not Iraq. Nobody is talking about military action," Straw said.

"The issue at hand is how the international community can most effectively ensure that international obligations in this case under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are enforced. If we lack the will and the commitment to do this then the multilateral system itself breaks down."

Straw, who earlier in the day gave another speech in which he asked China to offer its support through the United Nations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, said the stance adopted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime was one of the greatest tests to the resolve of the international community.

Straw touched upon a number of international issues, but gave special attention to the Middle East, saying nowhere else is the strength of international consensus more tested.

Straw, who along with his U.S. counterpart, Condoleeza Rice, has been heavily involved in attempting to break the deadlock over the creation of a new Iraqi government, said the nomination of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister represented significant progress toward uniting the country.

The political process in Iraq had been paralyzed for months after Sunni and Kurdish leaders refused to work under the Shiite groups' original choice for prime minister designate, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

"Nobody is under any illusion about how tough the next four years will be for a new (Iraqi) administration," Straw said. "But success in that difficult task will be reliant upon the active support of the entire international community."

Touching upon the election of Hamas in January's Palestinian legislative vote, Straw said the Islamic militant group, which refuses to recognize Israel, had won a democratic mandate "fair and square" but the new government had to accept the responsibilities that came with power.

"With democratic power comes democratic responsibility, a responsibility to work with neighboring governments and, above all, a responsibility not to get involved in or to use violence," he said, reports AP.

O.Ch.