Iran's Nuclear ActivitiesPresident George W. Bush
The Rose Garden, The White House
April 28, 2006
Excerpts on Iran from President's news conference.
Q ... The IAEA says that Iran is not in compliance with the Security Council. What sort of sanctions would you like to see and that could bring Russia and Chinese support?
THE PRESIDENT: The IAEA statement is an important statement. It reminds the nations of the world that there is an ongoing diplomatic effort to convince the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions. It reminds -- it should remind the Iranians that the world is united and concerned about their desire to have not only a nuclear weapon, but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon, all of which we're working hard to convince them not to try to achieve.
I will consult and continue to consult with our allies on this issue. I spoke to Chancellor Merkel this morning about this issue. She will be coming to Washington next week. We will continue discussions about how we can continue to maintain a united front. It's very important for the Iranians to understand there's a common desire by a lot of nations in this world to convince them, peacefully convince them, that they ought to give up their weapons ambitions.
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Q Let's come back to Iran, if we can. The Iranians have said they're going to ignore what happens at the U.N. Security Council. Doesn't that mean the diplomatic options are dwindling?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think the diplomatic options are just beginning. As you might recall, about six or seven months ago you were asking me questions about the United Nations Security Council vis-a-vis Iran, and now we're headed to the United Nations Security Council. And I look forward to working with all interested parties to make sure that there's a common voice.
Listen, the first thing that has to happen diplomatically for anything to be effective is that we all agree on the goal. And we've agreed on the goal, and that is the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the knowledge as to how to make a nuclear weapon. And now that we've got the goal in mind, we're working on the tactics. And today's IAEA report should remind us all that the Iranian government's intransigence is not acceptable.
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Q You often say Iran is not Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do say that.
Q There are many people who fear that this will turn into a military confrontation. Why is Iran not Iraq? There's WMD --
THE PRESIDENT: Iraq went through 16 different Security Council resolutions. There was resolution after resolution after resolution. Iraq had invaded its neighbors. Iraq was shooting at U.S. aircraft. Iraq had actually used weapons of mass destruction on its people before. There's a difference between the two countries.
Iran's desire to have a nuclear weapon is dangerous, in my judgment. The diplomatic process is just starting.
Q But when you talk about that, how many resolutions are you going to let go here? How far --
THE PRESIDENT: We haven't had one yet.
Q I know, but how far can you let them go? If you really fear that they're building a nuclear --
THE PRESIDENT: Wait until we even get one resolution first, before you ask me about the second resolution. The diplomatic process is just beginning. We're forming a strong coalition of like-minded countries that believe that the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon. And I've told the American people that diplomacy is my first choice, and it should be the first choice of every American President in order to solve a very difficult problem. There are significant differences between Iran and Iraq.
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Q I just want to follow up one more time on Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted this morning as saying those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right "should know that we do not give a damn," his words, sir, "about such resolutions."
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q When you're talking about diplomacy, sir, a question of tactics, at this point, not goals. If you have, for instance, Russia saying they don't want a Chapter 7 resolution, if you're dealing with a gentleman who uses this kind of rhetoric, what kind of tactics can you possibly come up with?
THE PRESIDENT: I guess the first thing I would do is refer those comments to our partners and get their reaction, to see what they say, see how they react to those kind of comments. And I haven't had a chance to do that yet, since it just happened today. But I will continue to work with our friends and allies.
Listen, key -- step one is to have a common goal. I know that sounds simple to you, probably, but it wasn't always that way. The world wasn't always of like mind that the Iranians were, you know, headed for a weapon, and that that would be a dangerous course of action. And now we are of like mind. And so we are in the stage now of formulating a strategy to achieve a diplomatic solution to this problem.
Q But Mr. President, given everything you've been hearing from Mr. Ahmadinejad over the past several weeks and months, in your estimation, is this someone you can work with?
THE PRESIDENT: That's going to be his choice, eventually. And it's going to be very important for Mr. Ahmadinejad to recognize the world is united in our desire, and it's his choice to make.
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Full text of news conference.