Iran has warned the West not to use the military option to oust Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, saying such action could turn the country into a Western military base.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemned the "inhumane violence" unleashed by Gaddafi loyalists against Libya's "popular movement" but said this "should not provide an excuse for military interference by other countries."
"They (Western countries) should not try to turn countries into military bases," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on the website of Iran's English-language Press TV channel on Tuesday.
His remarks came in response to reports that the West, including the United States, was weighing a military option against embattled Gaddafi.
However, such intervention was looking less likely on Wednesday after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that "there is no unanimity within NATO for the use of armed force" against Gaddafi.
"We also have to think about frankly the use of the US military in another country in the Middle East," Gates added.
Although Gaddafi's military is badly outgunned by US and NATO aircraft, the regime has dozens of surface-to-air missiles that could target invading warplanes.
More than 100,000 people have already left Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Gaddafi loyalists which has left at least 1,000 dead, according to conservative UN estimates.
The revolt against Gaddafi's 41-year rule is part of anger at authoritarian Arab regimes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa and even the Gulf states of Kuwait and Oman.
The uprisings were triggered by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt which led to ouster of their respective presidents.