Bloomberg: President George W. Bush said any negotiations with Iran must be preceded by the leaders in Tehran abandoning uranium enrichment efforts. By Demian McLean and Catherine Dodge
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush said any negotiations with Iran must be preceded by the leaders in Tehran abandoning uranium enrichment efforts.
Bush, after meeting today with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today at the White House, said the U.S. won’t engage Iran until its leaders submit to international demands aimed at preventing the Islamic republic from building a nuclear weapon.
“If the Iranians want to have a dialogue with us, we’ve shown them the way forward, and that is for them to verifiably suspend their enrichment activities,” Bush said in response to questions from reporters.
The stance may put Bush at odds with British Prime Tony Blair, one of his staunchest allies. Blair plans to push for including Iran and Syria in a Middle East strategy as the U.S. nears its fourth year battling a violent insurgency in neighboring Iraq.
Domestic political pressure is building on Bush and Blair to find a way to limit involvement in Iraq. Voters in the U.S. last week stripped control of Congress from Bush’s Republican Party, giving Democrats majorities in the House and Senate, largely because of concerns about the war.
Blair will call today for talks that “bring all parties together,” spokesman Tom Kelly said before the prime minister gave a speech in London today. Tomorrow, Blair will make recommendations to a panel studying Iraq strategy for Bush.
Kelly declined to comment on a BBC report that Blair will push for talks with Syria and Iran on stabilizing Iraq, saying only that those two countries have a “choice” between playing positive or negative roles.
Some members of Congress have encouraged the White House to engage leaders in Tehran on helping stabilize the situation in Iraq and help quell some of the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Israel is increasingly concerned about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology. The Iranian government earlier this month said it test fired a Shahab-3 missile capable of traveling 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles), a range that puts Israel’s major cities within reach.
“We know they are trying to possess nuclear weapons” Olmert said today at the White House, adding that the Israeli country “will not tolerate” a nuclear armed Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said June 8 that it can’t be sure that Iran isn’t hiding a nuclear weapons program. Iran concealed nuclear work from IAEA inspectors for 18 years until 2003. The U.S. and some allies say Iran’s atomic program is cover for the development of a weapon, while the Iranian government says it is designed to fuel power plants.
The permanent members of the Council are currently studying a draft resolution prepared by France, Germany and the U.K. that seeks to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on officials involved in Iran’s nuclear work.
Last year Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pronounced ah-ma-deen-ah-ZHAD, caused international outrage after he said that the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany during World War II, was a “myth” and that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”