OTTAWA - US President George W. Bush said Tuesday that Iran's agreement to freeze all uranium enrichment activities was "certainly not the final step" in easing US fears that Tehran seeks a nuclear weapon.
"The Iranians agreed to suspend -- but not terminate -- their nuclear weapons program. Our position is that they ought to terminate their nuclear weapons program," said the president.
The UN nuclear watchdog agency Monday spared Iran from being referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions after Tehran agreed in a deal with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
The president would not say whether he still hoped to take the Islamic republic before the council or said directly whether he was unhappy about Iran's agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"I viewed yesterday's decision by the Iranians as a positive step. But it's certainly not the final step," said Bush, who has accused Tehran of using its nuclear program as cover for a secret effort to acquire atomic weapons.
"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," he concluded.
Bush's comments came during a joint public appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin as the US president made his first official working visit to Canada since taking office in January 2001.
The president also pledged to keep working with Britain, France, and Germany, who brokered the deal with the Iranians.
"What we're interested in is them terminating a nuclear weapons program in a verifiable fashion. And we'll continue to work with our friends," he said.
Canada, the 2004-5 chair of the IAEA Board of Governors, has largely mirrored the US position, and warned Monday it would press the agency to inform the Security Council of any violation of the deal with Iran.
"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," Martin told reporters at the press conference.
"Canada, certainly, given the fact 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," he said.
Iran and the European trio are to begin talks in December on a package of rewards to Iran for suspending uranium enrichment, the key process using centrifuges to make fuel for nuclear reactors -- or the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Iran claims its nuclear program is a peaceful, civilian effort and rejects Washington's claims.