FACTBOX: U.S. anti-Iran statements have fostered talk of war

(Reuters) - A U.S. intelligence report released on Monday said Iran had ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, contradicting the Bush administration’s earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.

Here are recent comments by officials and politicians on Iran and its nuclear program which commentators say fostered speculation that President George W. Bush may be considering military action against Iran to stop it making a bomb.

-- President George W. Bush: “We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel... So I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

-- Vice-President Dick Cheney: “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences ... Our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “In the rise of an aggressive Iranian regime, we see that violent extremism is evolving in new and dangerous ways -- ways that make it a threat not only to the people of one nation or one race or one religion but to everyone in the Middle East.”

-- Russian President Vladimir Putin, deriding the U.S. drive for tougher action against Iran: “Running around like a madman with a blade in one’s hand is not the best way to solve such problems.”

The issue has reverberated among candidates on the campaign trail for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

-- Republican Rudy Giuliani: “The military option is not off the table and the Iranians should understand that America will not allow them to become a nuclear power ... Their regime is too irresponsible. The world would be in too much danger.”

-- Democrat John Edwards: “When Senator Clinton voted to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, she only aided and abetted George Bush and Dick Cheney’s march to war.” Edwards was referring to Clinton’s vote for a Senate resolution which backed naming Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

-- Republican John McCain: “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” -- sung jokingly to the tune of the Beach Boys’ song “Barbara Ann” during a campaign appearance.

Editing by David Storey