AFP: US President George W. Bush says "all options are on
the table" for making sure Iran dismantles its nuclear program, and that Washington will never let Tehran acquire atomic weapons.
"My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically," Bush said in a three-part interview with Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" program, excerpts of which were made public on Sunday. AFP

CRAWFORD, Texas - US President George W. Bush says "all options are on the table" for making sure Iran dismantles its nuclear program, and that Washington will never let Tehran acquire atomic weapons.

"My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically," Bush said in a three-part interview with Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" program, excerpts of which were made public on Sunday.

"Let me try to solve it diplomatically first," said Bush. "All options are on the table, of course, in any situation. But diplomacy is the first option."

The Bush administration has charged that oil-rich Iran does not need a civilian nuclear program for energy and that Tehran is actually seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Asked whether the United States would let Iran develop that capability, Bush replied: "No, we've made it clear, our position is that they won't have a nuclear weapon."

"We are working our hearts out so that they don't develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them," the president said.

Iran appealed Sunday for a negotiated settlement to its standoff with the UN atomic energy watchdog but showed no inclination to abide by a resolution calling for an immediate halt to its sensitive nuclear activities.

"No negotiations with the Americans are on the agenda, but we call on the Europeans to discuss with us," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

Iran is under threat of being hauled before the UN Security Council amid widespread suspicions it is seeking the capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

In a resolution passed on September 18, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment-related activities, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be directed to both energy and weapons purposes.