US ally Kuwait said on Sunday it opposes any military strike against its Gulf neighbour Iran, and called for a negotiated settlement of the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“We are against any military strike against Iran,” National Security Agency chief Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah told reporters. “We hope the issue will be resolved through dialogue.”

He said Iran had the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but added: “We however oppose any use of nuclear technology for inhuman purposes in the Middle East region.”

Kuwait last month formed an emergency team to prepare contingency plans for any possible outbreak of Iran-US hostilities over Tehran’s nuclear drive, which Washington suspects is a cover for efforts to build the atomic bomb.

Sheikh Ahmad said the preparations were “simply precautionary measures.”

The United States on Saturday called on the international community for stronger sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend nuclear enrichment.

Washington has said it would prefer to address its concerns about Tehran’s nuclear programme diplomatically but refuses to rule out the option of military action.

It has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf and has a second aircraft carrier stationed in the strategic waterway for the first time since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Kuwait served as the launch-pad for that invasion and remains the main staging point for US-led troops in Iraq. Around 15,000 US troops are stationed at several bases in the emirate.

Iran consistently denies it is trying to build nuclear weapons and says it merely wants to generate energy.

(source: Agence France-Presse quoted here)

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