Bush: 'My opinion hasn't changed' towards Iran
President Bush said Tuesday that he just learned last week of a newly disclosed intelligence report showing Iran halted its nuclear weapons program hasn't changed, and he reiterated that the new intelligence would not change his approach to the regime.
"Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said.
The president's comments mark a departure from his previous rhetoric warning of "World War III" if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, but he pointedly refused to repudiate those remarks.
"My opinion hasn't changed," Bush said, regarding Iran's threat to world peace.
The president was reacting to Monday's disclosure of a National Intelligence Estimate that showed Iran stopped trying to develop a nuclear weapon in 2003, although the administration estimate maintained that Iran still aims to re-start a covert nuclear weapons program.
"I still feel strongly that Iran's a danger," Bush said. "Nothing's changed in this NIE that we say, 'Well, let's stop worrying about it.'"
Bush said Iran could resume a covert nuclear program, and he warned that Iranian leaders could pass along knowledge on building a nuclear weapon to terrorist groups.
"Most of the world understands that Iran with a nuclear weapon could be a serious danger to peace," Bush said, calling on US allies to maintain diplomatic pressure on Iran.
The United States needs to act immediately, he said, to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.
"Our policy remains the same," Bush said. "I see a danger, and much of the world sees the same danger."
Bush also refused to rule-out the possibility of a military strike against Iran now that he knows the country's nuclear weapons program has been dormant for four years.
"The best diplomacy — effective diplomacy — is one in which all options are on the table," he said.
In fact, Europeans said the new information strengthens their argument for negotiations with Tehran, but they also said that sanctions are still an option to compel Iran to be fully transparent about its nuclear program, according to the Associated Press. European officials insisted that the international community should not walk away from years of talks with an often defiant Tehran that is openly enriching uranium for uncertain ends. The report said Iran could still build a nuclear bomb by 2010-2015.
The following video is from CSPAN's Bush Press Conference, broadcast on December 04, 2007