Last Updated: 6/28/06

Bush Says U.S.-EU United Against Iran Nuclear Plans
June 19, 2006

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said the U.S. and Europe are united against the ``grave threat'' Iran's nuclear program poses and promised an opportunity for ``peace and prosperity'' if the Islamic Republic accepts a deal aimed at ensuring it won't build an atomic weapon.

Bush, speaking a day before he departs for Vienna for talks Wednesday with European Union leaders, said Iran should accept a ``reasonable offer'' the U.S. and its allies made to provide incentives for Iran to give up trying to enrich uranium, a step toward building nuclear bomb.

``If Iran's leaders want peace and prosperity and a more hopeful future for their people, they should accept our offer, abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons'' and comply with international rules, Bush said at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's commencement ceremony in Kings Point, New York.

The U.S. and the EU want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment ahead of talks about incentives the EU formally presented to Iranian officials on June 6. Iran says its program is aimed at producing electricity, in compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and denies U.S. claims that it is developing atomic weapons in breach of the accord.

``Nuclear weapons in the hands of this regime would be a grave threat to people everywhere,'' Bush said. ``We've all agreed on a unified approach to solve this problem diplomatically.''

`Unconditional' Talks

Iran wants ``unconditional'' talks on the EU offer, the country's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying today by state television.

As part of the proposal, the Bush administration agreed to join discussions with Iran about its nuclear program. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France -- along with Germany offered Iran a package of incentive allowing it to develop civilian nuclear plants in exchange for the Iranian government giving up uranium enrichment, which can provide fuel for power plants as well as a building block for a weapon.

Details of the proposal, backed by the U.S. and formally presented to Iranian officials June 6, haven't been disclosed. It gives Iran an opportunity to avoid potential United Nations Security Council sanctions, Bush said.

`Historic Opportunity'

``I have a message for the Iranian regime: America and our partners are united,'' Bush said. ``Iran's leaders should see our proposal for what it is: an historic opportunity to set their country on a better course.''

While Iran was not given a precise deadline to respond to the offer, Bush said June 9 that Iran has ``weeks, not months'' to decided whether to suspend verifiably its nuclear enrichment activities to avoid Security Council action.

``We hope they will accept our offer and voluntarily suspend these activities so we can work out an agreement that will bring Iran real benefits,'' Bush said today. ``If Iran's leaders reject our offer, it will result in actions before the Security Council, further isolation from the world and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions.''

Bush said he had a message for the Iranian people, too. He said they deserve to have the opportunity to develop a ``truly peaceful'' nuclear program ``with proper international safeguards. He said the U.S. and Iran should build ``bridges of understanding'' between the two countries.

``We look forward to the day when our nations are friends and when the people of Iran enjoy the full fruits of liberty and play a leading role in to establish peace in our world,'' Bush said.

Allied Approach

In his speech, Bush also said the U.S and Europe want to see freedom and democracy flourish in Lebanon and for Palestinians. In talks with the European Union on Wednesday in Vienna, bush said he will encourage countries to meet $13 billion in pledges of aid to Iraq because only $3.5 billion has been delivered.

``This is a critical time for Iraq's young democracy'' and countries have ``a responsibility to meet their pledges and America and Europe will work together to ensure they do so,'' Bush said.

On global trade, Bush said, ``I call on Europe to join us'' in eliminating ``trade-distorting'' farm subsidies and working to conclude the Doha round of trade talks.

Last Updated: June 19, 2006 11:51 EDT

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