BERLIN U.S. President George W. Bush defended in a television interview on Wednesday his recent comments suggesting Iran's nuclear ambitions might trigger World War Three and insisted he wanted a diplomatic solution.
Bush told a news conference last month that preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons would be a means of avoiding a new global conflict.
"The reason I said that is because this is a country that has defied the IAEA -- in other words, didn't disclose all their program -- have said they want to destroy Israel," Bush said in the interview with German broadcaster RTL.
"If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon," Bush added. "And so I said, now is the time to move. It wasn't a prediction, nor a desire."
Asked whether there was a point when the United States would decide military action was the only possible option for dealing with Iran, Bush said: "I would never say that."
"I would say that we would always try to try diplomacy first," he said. "In other words, I -- I've committed our troops into harm's way twice, and it's not a pleasant experience because I understand the consequences firsthand.
"And so I owe it to the American people to say that I've tried to solve this problem diplomatically. And that's exactly what I intend to do. And I believe we can do it, so long as the world works in concert."
Iran says its atomic work is to make electricity, not bombs.
The interview was conducted on Tuesday and RTL released the quotes on Wednesday ahead of a visit to Bush's Texas ranch by German Chancellor Angela Merkel later this week.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by Charles Dick)