Iran General NewsBush sees Iran as possibly greatest threat

Bush sees Iran as possibly greatest threat


AP: President Bush said Thursday Iran may pose the greatest challenge to the United States and diplomacy to thwart the Islamic nation’s nuclear program must prevail to avoid confrontation. Associated Press


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush said Thursday Iran may pose the greatest challenge to the United States and diplomacy to thwart the Islamic nation’s nuclear program must prevail to avoid confrontation.

In a 49-page national security report, the president reaffirmed the strike-first, or pre-emptive policy he first outlined in 2002. Diplomacy is the U.S. preference in halting the spread of nuclear and other heinous weapons, Bush said.

“If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur – even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack,” Bush wrote.

“When the consequences of an attack with weapons of mass destruction are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize. … The place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same.”

The White House plans to release the National Security Strategy report in conjunction with a speech that Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is delivering at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The report, Bush’s second since becoming president, summarizes his strategy to protect the United States and improve U.S. relations with other nations. When he sent his first report to Congress – a year after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 – Bush was struggling to persuade U.S. allies to join an offensive to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Since then, the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan was replaced by a freely elected government. Iraqis approved a constitution by referendum and nearly 12 million of them voted in an election for a permanent government.

Sectarian violence, however, threatens the fragile government in Iraq, where more than 2,300 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the war in March 2003.

“When the Iraqi government, supported by the coalition, defeats the terrorists, terrorism will be dealt a critical blow,” Bush wrote in the report required by Congress.

In the report, Bush reproaches Russia and China and calls Syria a tyranny that harbors terrorists and sponsors terrorist activity.

On Russia, Bush said recent trends show a waning commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions. “Strengthening our relationship will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic that Russia adopts,” he said.

The United States also is urging China to continue down a road of reform and openness.

“China’s leaders must realize, however, that they cannot stay on this peaceful path while holding on to old ways of thinking and acting that exacerbate concerns throughout the region and the world.”

He said these “old ways” include enlarging China’s military in a nontransparent way, expanding trade, yet seeking to direct markets rather than opening them up, and supporting energy-rich nations without regard to their misrule or misbehavior at home or abroad.

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