FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Monday he supports Russia sending enriched uranium to Iran for civilian power use because it meant that Tehran did not need to pursue their own enrichment capabilities.
“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” Bush said. “If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”
Russia has delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr atomic power station, which Moscow and Washington say should convince Tehran to shut down its disputed uranium enrichment program.
Bush said Iran was a danger so long as it pursued a nuclear program that could lead to the development of weapons. Tehran insists its program is for peaceful energy purposes only.
Despite a U.S. intelligence assessment that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons program in late 2003, Bush said: “I think Iran’s a danger to peace. My attitude hasn’t changed toward Iran. If somebody had a weapons program what’s to say they couldn’t start it up tomorrow?”
The United States is seeking another round of U.N. sanctions against Iran. “They owe an explanation to the world,” Bush said.
“That (intelligence) report says to me, when you read it carefully, Iran was a threat, Iran is a threat to peace, and Iran will be a threat to peace if we don’t stop their enrichment facilities,” Bush said.
Writing by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Patricia Wilson