Bush Demands Iran Explain Nuke Program
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; 10:43 PM
WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday called on Iran to explain why it had a secretive nuclear weapons program, and warned that any such efforts must not be allowed to flourish "for the sake of world peace."
"Iran is dangerous," Bush said after an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. "We believe Iran had a secret military weapons program, and Iran must explain to the world why they had a program."
Bush's comments came after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that it was "a step forward" that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Tehran stopped developing its nuclear weapons program four years ago.
Ahmadinejad told reporters that an "entirely different" situation between the United States and Iran could be created if more steps like the intelligence report followed.
"We consider this measure by the U.S. government a positive step. It is a step forward," Ahmadinejad said.
"If one or two other steps are taken, the issues we have in front of us will be entirely different and will lose their complexity, and the way will be open for the resolution of basic issues in the region and in dealings between the two sides," he said.
Bush did not respond directly to those comments when asked about them in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.
"My answer to the Iranians is: You had a hidden program that was a military program," he said. "We think you have shut it down now. You have an obligation to explain to the world loud and clear why you had a military program. Do you intend to start it up again. In other words, the ball is in their court."
White House press secretary Dana Perino dismissed Ahmadinejad's comments as "fanciful thinking."
Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful, but until last week, the United States and Western allies had countered that Iran was hiding plans for a bomb.
"Iran has an obligation to explain to the IAEA why they hid this program from them," Bush said, referring to the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Iran is dangerous, and they'll be even more dangerous if they learn how to enrich uranium," Bush said. "So I look forward to working with the president," Bush said, referring to Napolitano, the Italian leader, "to explain our strategy and to figure out ways we can work together to prevent this from happening for the sake of world peace."