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(photo credit: AP)
President George W. Bush said Monday the United States will not waver in demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment-related activity before America would join international talks to resolve the nuclear standoff.
"Nuclear weapons in the hands of this regime would be a grave threat to people everywhere," Bush said on the eve of a trip to Europe.
Bush said the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have adopted a unified approach to resolve the impasse with Iran diplomatically. He said that Teheran must "fully and verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities" before the United States will join in negotiations with Iran.
"Iran's leaders have a clear choice: 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," the president said. "If Iran's leaders reject our offer, it will result in action before the Security Council, further isolation from the world and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions."
Bush spoke at the commencement ceremonies of the US Merchant Marine Academy.
On Sunday, Iran accused the United States of steering Europe away from a possible compromise on Teheran's disputed nuclear program. Iran's foreign ministry said the US insistence on conditional negotiations over a Western package of incentives has narrowed the scope of possible talks and made it tougher for all parties to reach a solution.
The incentives are meant to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can make nuclear fuel for a power plant or fissile material for an atomic bomb. Iran says enriching uranium is its country's inalienable right, and that it is reviewing the package and will propose amendments to the deal.
"I have a message for the Iranian regime," Bush said. "America and our partners are united. We have presented a reasonable offer. Iran's leaders should see our proposal for what it is: an historic opportunity to set their country on a better course. If Iran's leaders want peace and prosperity and a more hopeful future ... they should accept our offer.
"Abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons and come into compliance with their international obligations," he said.
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