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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Alternatives to a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program are "not very attractive," a top German diplomat said Thursday, noting that Germany and other nations are ready to move beyond sanctions despite what the U.S. Congress might do.
The German ambassador to the U.S., Peter Wittig, made the comments while speaking on a range of international issues during a forum in central Ohio.
The U.S. and other nations negotiating with the Iranian capital, Tehran, have long suspected that Iran's nuclear program is secretly aimed at atomic weapons capability. Tehran insists the program is entirely devoted to civilian purposes.
The nuclear talks resume next week in Vienna, with a target date of June 30 for a final agreement.
Wittig, in remarks to the Columbus Metropolitan Club, said, "The alternatives to a negotiated deal are not very attractive."
While he said Congress would probably be willing to impose new sanctions, other countries would not follow.
"And this universal sanctions regime would crumble," he said. "And that would, in my opinion, unleash this arms race for a nuclear weapon in the region."
The ambassador's remarks came the day the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to let Congress review and possibly reject any final deal with Tehran.
Wittig praised U.S. diplomatic efforts in the nuclear talks while offering Germany's perspective on the negotiations. He stressed that military strikes were not a solid alternative to a negotiated deal either.
"It could set back Iran's ambitions for a couple months, maybe years, but it would not be lasting and not be very viable," he said.
He said his government pleads to give diplomacy a chance. Any agreement that materializes in summer will be reviewed and judged on its merits, he added.
Wittig also met privately Thursday with Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is weighing a potential presidential bid in 2016.
Kasich's office said the governor and Wittig discussed opportunities for increased investment and trade between German and Ohio companies. The governor presented him with a football signed by Ohio State University football star Archie Griffin, the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy.
The ambassador also met with leaders of German companies operating in Ohio during his first visit to the state.