AFP: US President George W. Bush, bound for the United Nations, said Tuesday that he would try to rally China and Russia this week behind possible UN action to ensure Iran does not get nuclear weapons. AFP
by Olivier Knox
NEW YORK – US President George W. Bush, bound for the United Nations, said Tuesday that he would try to rally China and Russia this week behind possible UN action to ensure Iran does not get nuclear weapons.
“It is very important for the world to understand that Iran with a nuclear weapon will be incredibly destabilizing. And therefore, we must work together to prevent them from having the wherewithal to develop a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Asked whether seeking UN sanctions was now inevitable, Bush pointed to a September 19 meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and said “there is still an IAEA process to go forward.”
He said Washington would push for “full disclosure about Iranian intentions” in order for the UN Security Council to “determine the right policy to go forward.”
Bush was to meet here Tuesday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as well as President Hu Jintao of China, which has balked at Washington’s push to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
And he was to meet at the White House September 16 with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which has been helping Iran develop a civilian nuclear program that Washington charges is cover for a quest to acquire atomic weapons.
“I will bring the subject up with leaders whom I’ll be meeting with today and tomorrow and later on this week. I will be speaking candidly about Iran with Hu Jintao, as well as with President Putin, for example,” said Bush.
Speaking at a joint public appearance at the White House with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bush said Iran had a right to a civilian nuclear program but questioned why the oil-rich Islamic republic needed it.
And he stressed that “there ought to be guidelines, … and one such guideline would be in such a way that they don’t gain the expertise necessary to be able to enrich” uranium, a key step towards getting a nuclear weapon.
Ahead of a crucial September 19 meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to raise the issue here with her Indian counterpart, Natwar Singh, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, according to senior US officials.
Rice has said that seeking UN action against Tehran was a “reasonable option” after Iran last month resumed sensitive fuel-cycle work it had suspended in November as part of negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.
Bush, sinking in the polls under the weight of Hurricane Katrina and divisions over the war in Iraq, was to use the world leaders’ meeting here to discuss UN reforms, the Middle East peace process and North Korea.
On Wednesday, Bush was to make a speech to UN leaders that was expected to focus on efforts to promote democracy worldwide, as well as on the US role in supporting economic development.
He was also to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the Middle East peace process in the wake of Israel’s historic withdrawal from Gaza and ahead of Palestinian elections early next year.
In addition, Bush was to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his closest ally on the war in Iraq, attend a UN Security Council summit and sign the Convention for the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism.
The US president was also to attend the launch of the United Nations Democracy Fund, which is aimed notably at helping countries prepare and hold elections.