DUBAI (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said in comments aired on Friday that the United States was working to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran diplomatically but was keeping all its options open.
“I have, of course, said that all options are on the table, but I made a pledge to the American people that we will work diplomatically to solve the problem,” Bush said in excerpts of an interview with Al Arabiya television.
“We will work in ways that we can to make it clear that (Iran) should not have the know-how on how to make a weapon because of the great threats to peace in the world ... with their stated objective which is the destruction of Israel,” Bush said.
Reuters obtained a tape of Bush’s remarks in English in the interview, which was dubbed into Arabic by the network.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday Iran had overcome difficulties en route to a nuclear energy industry and no one could stop it.
Diplomats said Iran had installed close to 3,000 centrifuge machines, enough to start refining usable amounts of nuclear fuel, but would need to run them in unison at high speeds for long periods to attain that threshold.
Western powers fear Iran’s stated pursuit of nuclear- generated electricity is a precursor to it learning how to build atom bombs. They have sponsored two sets of U.N. sanctions against Tehran and are preparing to draft harsher penalties, but fears are growing that the standoff could escalate into war.
Iran denies it wants nuclear weapons.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged European Union counterparts to explore wider financial sanctions on Iran, saying the world could not afford to wait for U.N. action. Russia and China have held up tougher U.N. measures.
“You see us at the United Nations working with the EU countries, China and Russia to send that clear message and ... we are going to continue to impose sanctions and make it harder for the Iranian government to operate in the world until they change their mind,” Bush said.
“I have said that if they suspend their nuclear programme, we will be at the table (for talks). But they have so far refused to do that.”