Bush: U.S., Israel united in making sure Iran doesn't get nuclear weapons

By News Agencies

Haaretz

Av 9, 5765

U.S. President George W. Bush said on Israeli television he could consider using force as a last resort to press Iran to give up its nuclear program.

"All options are on the table," Bush, speaking at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, said in the interview with Channel 1 TV broadcast on Friday.

In the interview, Bush said the United States and Israel "are united in our objective to make sure that Iran does not have a weapon."

Asked if that included the use of force, Bush replied: "As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country."

Iran angered the European Union and the United States by resuming uranium conversion at the Isfahan plant last Monday after rejecting an EU offer of political and economic incentives in return for giving up its nuclear program.

Tehran says it aims only to produce electricity and denies Western accusations it is seeking a nuclear bomb.

Bush made clear he still hoped for a diplomatic solution, noting that EU powers Britain, Germany and France had taken the lead in dealing with Iran.

Washington last week expressed a willingness to give negotiations on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program more time before getting tougher with the country.

"In all these instances we want diplomacy to work and so we're working feverishly on the diplomatic route and we'll see if we're successful or not," Bush told Channel One television.

Bush has also previously said that the U.S. has not ruled out the possibility of military strikes. But U.S. officials have played down media speculation earlier this year they were planning military action against Iran.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Friday that negotiations were still possible with Iran on condition the Iranians suspend their nuclear activities.

The governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously called on Iran on Thursday to halt sensitive atomic work.

Douste-Blazy said the next step would be on Sept. 3 when IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei reports on Iran's activities.

If Iran continues to defy global demands, another IAEA meeting will likely be held, where both Europe and Washington will push for a referral to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran: No compromise over Isfahan, next step enrichment in Natanz
There will be no compromise over the uranium conversion plant in Isfahan in central Iran despite the deadline set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's deputy parliamentary speaker said Saturday.

Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, a close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the news agency Fars that further negotiations with the European Union should only focus on reopening the central Iranian uranium enrichment plant of Natanz.

Iran has rejected Thursdays deadline by the IAEA board of governor to close down the Isfahan plant until September 3 as "politically motivated" saying that as signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA Additional Protocol, the country was entitled to pursue a civil atomic program.

In the Isfahan plant, yellowcake (or uranium ore) is converted into uranium hexafluoride gas and stored inside the plant until a political agreement is reached to feed the gas into centrifuges for uranium enrichment in the neighbouring Natanz plant.

Although Iran has constantly stressed that its atomic program is only for peaceful use, the Western world fears that the same process could also be used to make atomic bombs.