AFP: US President George W. Bush on Tuesday played down his warning of “World War III” if Iran gets nuclear arms but refused to rule out using force to keep Tehran from getting an atomic weapons.
WASHINGTON (AFP) US President George W. Bush on Tuesday played down his warning of “World War III” if Iran gets nuclear arms but refused to rule out using force to keep Tehran from getting an atomic weapons.
“I think it’s very important for us to pursue our objectives diplomatically. I also know it’s important for all options to remain on the table, and they are on the table,” Bush told ABC television in an interview.
“No one wants to use military force to achieve any objective. But, but it’s important for all parties to understand that, you know, while I’m optimistic we can solve it diplomatically, options are available to the president,” he added.
Bush sought to soothe concerns about a months-long escalation in US rhetoric towards the Islamic republic, specifically his warning that allowing Iran to acquire the know-how to make nuclear weapons could trigger “World War III.”
The US president said he was responding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel comments, and trying to convince wary US allies into stepping up pressure on Tehran.
“I said, ‘if you want to avoid World War III.’ And the reason I said that is because I take the words of their leader very seriously when, for example, he says he wants to destroy Israel,” said Bush.
“And secondly I think it’s very important for our partners who are in the United Nations, for example, to understand that now is the time to work diplomatically to convince the Iranians to change their behavior.
“Our strategy is clear, and I hope it’s — I think it’s working,” he said. “There are people at the table that, you know, first were a little, little reluctant, and didn’t take the Iranian threat seriously.”
It was not clear to whom he was referring, though the UN Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to freeze uranium enrichment and Washington is pushing for a third wave.
“Iran is beginning to feel a sense of isolation,” said Bush.