By Sgt. Sara Moore, USA
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 4, 2007 - The national intelligence estimate released yesterday on Iran's nuclear program proves that Iran is still a threat to world peace and provides an opportunity for the international community to work together to persuade the country's current regime to stop its uranium enrichment program, President Bush said here today. Although the estimate says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, it also states with "high confidence" that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons program that it has never acknowledged and continues to deny, Bush said in a White House news conference. This opens up the possibility that Iran could develop another covert weapons program and could transfer the knowledge of uranium enrichment, which the country has been pursuing since 2005, to that program, Bush said.
"I think it is very important for the international community to recognize the fact that if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could transfer to a clandestine program, it would create a danger for the world," Bush said. "So I view this report as a warning signal."
Bush denied allegations that this latest estimate damages U.S. credibility because it points out that Iran's weapons program was halted, but U.S. leaders continued to warn of the impending danger of a nuclear Iran. Iran still is a threat to the stability of the Middle East, he said, because uranium enrichment is the most important step in developing nuclear weapons.
"Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said, asserting that his opinion about Iran has not changed.
The intelligence estimate also found that diplomacy worked in the past to dissuade Iran from its nuclear weapons program. This proves that there is a better way forward for Iran, Bush said, and now is the time for the international community to come together and work toward a diplomatic solution.
"The best way to ensure that the world is peaceful in the future is for the international community to continue to work together to say to the Iranians, 'We're going to isolate you, however, there is a better way forward for the Iranians,'" Bush said.
Bush complimented the intelligence community for its work on the intelligence estimate. This report proves that reforms of the U.S. intelligence community have worked, and it is important for the public to see the facts about Iran, he said.
"I think the (national intelligence estimate) makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace," Bush said. "My opinion hasn't changed. If you want to avoid a really problematic situation in the Middle East, now's the time to work together. That's our message to our allies."