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Bush Wary of Tehran's Nuclear Intentions

By Paula Wolfson, VOA, Ottawa

U.S. President George W. Bush (left) listens to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin duirng a joint news conference in Ottawa President Bush says Iran's decision to suspend its uranium enrichment program is just a first step and more needs to be done to curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The president says Iran has reneged on its promises before. He says Tehran's pledge to put its uranium enrichment program on hold must be closely monitored.

"It's certainly not the final step," said Mr. Bush. "And it's very important, for whatever they do, to make sure that the world is able to verify the decision they have made. And so we've obviously got more work to do."

During a news conference in Ottawa, Mr. Bush was asked if he is prepared to take Iran to the United Nation's Security Council over its nuclear program.

He said America's position is clear: Iran's efforts to enrich uranium, a key component in nuclear fuel, must end.

"The Iranians agreed to suspend, but not terminate their nuclear weapons program," added Mr. Bush. "Our position is that they ought to terminate their nuclear weapons program."

On Monday, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency endorsed a suspension deal reached by Iran and three European nations. The resolution did not include any specific threat of action if Iran did not follow through, including U.N. sanctions.

President Bush noted these European countries devoted great time and effort to negotiations with Iran. But he also suggested he remained somewhat skeptical about Tehran's intentions.

"It's taken a long time to get to the stage where Iran is willing to suspend," explained Mr. Bush. "Think about all the hours of negotiations that our friends -- the French, the Germans and the Brits -- have used to get them to suspend a program. What we're interested is in them terminating a nuclear weapons program in a verifiable fashion. And we'll continue to work with our friends."

Mr. Bush noted the matter was discussed at the last summit of the so-called Group of Eight: the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, Italy, Japan, Germany and France. Prime Minister Martin said the international community has realized that the spread of nuclear weapons must stop.

"Whether it's Iran, whether it's North Korea, I think that the world came to a very important decision many, many years ago, in terms of nuclear proliferation," said Mr. Martin. "Canada certainly, given the fact of our natural resources, we could be a nuclear power and there were wise heads at that time that prevailed. And I would hope that that view would be held universally today by those countries."

Iran claims its nuclear program is solely designed to provide power for civilian use. But the United States counters that Iran is rich in oil and does not need nuclear power plants.

... Payvand News - 12/1/04 ... --

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