AMMAN - An Iranian nuclear arms buildup would be a "nightmare," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned Sunday, saying Europe is looking to head off any dangerous confrontation with Tehran.
Fischer said an Iranian nuclear challenge only adds to Middle East problems that include bringing security and stability to postwar Iraq, resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and introducing democratic reforms. The U.S. accuses Iran of using a nuclear energy program to hide nuclear weapons production, an accusation the Iranians deny and that has concerned Europe.
"It would be a nightmare for the region ... if we saw the beginning of an arms race - a nuclear arms race - in the region," Fischer told reporters in Jordan, where he was meeting with Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher. "We are in intensive talks with Iran, and we hope the leadership in Tehran would not miscalculate the situation."
Fischer also indicated that Germany, France and the U.K. were near an understanding with Tehran on supplying Iran with nuclear energy technology - a prospect the European has held out if its suspicions about a nuclear weapons program are alleviated.
"We think we have reached an agreement, and we are ready to fulfill our part step by step and word by word," Fischer said. The Iranians accused the Europeans of backing out on a previous commitment.
Fischer didn't elaborate, but said: "We are really very serious about finsing a way out of a very dangerous, possible confrontation."
Washington has been lobbying for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Iran.
Fischer, who arrived from neighboring Syria on Saturday, was also scheduled to hold talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II. The German minister is on a regional tour that will include Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. He already has visited Lebanon.
On Iraq, Fischer said Germany still had a different perspective from that of the United States: "The U.S. is our close friend and ... most important ally, but I think we have a different view."
Fischer said Germany remained opposed to sending troops to Iraq, but that its contribution to rebuilding the war-ravaged country included humanitarian aid, debt relief and training Iraqi police.
Reflecting on the Iraq situation and Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the need for reform in the Arab world, Fischer said American leadership was needed, but that Europe and others must play a role.
"If you put all three together, it's quite clear (that) we need American leadership," he said. "But, on the other side, I don't believe this can be done alone by the United States."
"Europe will play an important role in the Quartet," he said, referring to America's partners - including Russia, the U.N. and the European Union - trying to resolve the Mideast conflict.
"When we talk about our security as Europeans, we talk about the future of our neighbor - the Middle East - because when things are going badly wrong here in the region, it will hurt our interests immediately and our security immediately," he said.