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Bush Calls for Diplomatic Solution to Iran Nuclear Dispute


President Bush says he remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions. He is downplaying the possible use of military force.

Recent U.S. media reports have alleged military planning is under way for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear installations.

President Bush says he read them and found them to be way off the mark.

"What you are reading is wild speculation, which happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital," said Mr. Bush.

The president says he believes in a doctrine of prevention. But he makes clear that does not mean he believes the use of force is always warranted to deal with a perceived threat.

"The doctrine of prevention is to work together to get the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon," he noted. "I know, here in Washington, we hear, it means force. It does not mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy."

In remarks to a group of foreign policy students in Washington, Mr. Bush said that, in the case of Iran, multi-lateral diplomacy is the best course. He said bilateral discussions between Tehran and Washington would not work, saying it is far more effective when many countries raise joint concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"We do not want the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the knowledge as to how to make a nuclear weapon," he said. "That is our stated goal. It is also the goal, fortunately, of other friends and allies."

Mr. Bush told his audience at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies that good progress is being made, though he did not go into specifics.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan also downplayed the prospects for the use of military force. He said no president ever takes the military option completely off the table, but he stressed the United States is seeking a diplomatic solution to this dispute.

McClellan said the media reports of military planning cited un-named former officials and outside experts, who did not understand the administration's thinking. And while he did not confirm or deny that a contingency plan is being made, he stressed several times that diplomacy is the administration's chosen approach to this problem.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the reports, which appeared in The Washington Post newspaper and The New Yorker magazine, are part of a campaign of psychological warfare being waged by the United States. He said Iran will not be dissuaded from its nuclear goals.

Iran insists its nuclear program is designed to produce electricity. But the United States and other countries have accused Tehran of using the civilian program as a cover for the development of nuclear arms.

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