Bush Threatens Iran With U.N. Action

By William Branigin and Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 1, 2006; 12:45 PM

President Bush today warned Iranian leaders to drop their "obstinance" and accept U.S. conditions for negotiations on Iran's nuclear program or face action in the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting in the White House, Bush responded to Iran's initial reaction to a U.S. proposal for talks outlined yesterday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In Tehran, Iranian officials issued a wary but apparently less than final reply today to the Bush administration's offer to join European talks with Iran, saying they welcome a dialogue but reject U.S. conditions that Iran first suspend its efforts to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

Bush told reporters he had spoken to the presidents of Russia and China about the issue and explained the U.S. position. He said he received "a positive response" from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The choice is up to the Iranians whether or not they're going to listen to the world demand, and if they do, we got something to talk to them about," Bush said. "And if they don't, we expect Russia to participate in the United Nations Security Council."

Bush said: "Now, it's going to be up to the Iranians to make their decision. And if they choose not to verifiably suspend, we have laid the groundwork for an effective international response."

Asked for his reply to Iran's rejection of the U.S. demand that it first suspend uranium enrichment, Bush said: "My reaction is the choice is theirs, and we'll see whether or not that is the firm position of their government. And if that's what they decide to do, then the next step, of course, will be . . . for our coalition partners to go to the United Nations Security Council."

Bush added: "I want to solve this problem diplomatically and I want to solve it peacefully." But he said Iranian leaders must understand "that if they choose not to suspend" enrichment and reprocessing activities in a verified way, "if they continue their obstinance, if they continue to say to the world, 'We really don't care what your opinion is,' then the world is going to act in concert. And the next step of acting in concert is to go to the United Nations Security Council."

Iran's initial response came as Rice and top diplomats from the four other Security Council permanent members, plus Germany, convened in Vienna to hammer out details of a package of incentives and penalties aimed at prodding Iran to give up any nuclear arms ambitions.

"Iran welcomes dialogue under just conditions but won't give up our rights," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in remarks quoted by Iranian state television. "We won't negotiate about the Iranian nation's natural nuclear rights, but we are prepared, within a defined, just framework and without any discrimination, to hold dialogue about common concerns."

The comments were in response to Rice's statement yesterday that the United States was prepared to join three European Union nations -- Britain, France and Germany, known as the EU3 -- in talks with Iran once the Tehran government suspended its programs to enrich uranium and reprocess nuclear fuel, activities that the Bush administration says are pat of a covert attempt to develop atomic weapons.

Mottaki dismissed Rice's remarks as presenting no "new and rational solution" to the dispute, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). "The remarks were a litany of phrases" intended to prevent further isolation of the United States and distract attention from U.S. problems in Iraq, the agency quoted him as telling reporters.

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