President Bush is expressing renewed concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions one day after Tehran resumed nuclear fuel-related activities. Mr. Bush also seized upon reports of seemingly conciliatory words from Iran's recently elected president.
President Bush has long expressed doubts over Iranian assurances that its nuclear program is designed solely for peaceful energy purposes. Speaking with reporters at his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush said Iran's recent actions provide additional cause for concern.
"We are very deeply suspicious of their [nuclear] desires and call upon our friends in Europe, the EU-three -- Germany, France and Great Britain to lead the diplomatic effort to convince the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions."
The president said the United States remains committed to working with European nations -- Britain, France and Germany -- to achieve a long term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
"It is important for the Iranians to understand that America stands squarely with the EU-three, that we feel strongly the Iranians need to adhere to the agreements made in the Paris accord, and that we would be willing to work with our partners in dealing with appropriate consequences should they ignore the demands."
President Bush said those consequences could include taking the matter to the U.N Security Council, where Iran could face international sanctions.
At the same time, Mr. Bush cautiously welcomed news reports from Iran quoting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying he would be presenting a proposal of his own in the near future.
Mr. Bush noted, however, that any Iranian initiatives would have to be reviewed carefully in light of previous instances where Iran was, as the president put it, "caught" enriching uranium -- an activity he described as dangerous.
President Bush said the United States would support Iran's peaceful pursuit of nuclear power so long as there is rigorous international inspection, and spent fuel is collected from Iran. Mr. Bush spoke hours after the International Atomic Energy Agency opened an emergency meeting in Vienna to discuss the Iranian situation.
The IAEA is expected to warn Tehran not to restart enriching uranium, which can be used for either power plants or producing nuclear weapons.