President Bush says there must be consequences for Iran's refusal to meet a U.N. deadline to stop enriching uranium. The president says Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran insists it is not trying to do.
President Bush told a gathering of U.S. military veterans in the western state of Utah that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations.
"We know the death and suffering that Iran's sponsorship of terrorism has brought," said the president, "and we can imagine how much worse it could be, if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons."
The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, despite the deadline, set by the international community, to stop that work. The IAEA report puts the issue before the U.N. Security Council, where the Bush administration is pushing for sanctions against Iran.
President Bush says the international community made a reasonable proposal to Iran to stop enriching uranium in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives. So far, Mr. Bush says, Iran has responded with further defiance and delay.
"It is time for Iran to make a choice," said the president. "We've made our choice. We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution. But there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."
Not all Security Council members agree that sanctions are the best response to Iran's defiance. China and Russia, which both have veto power in the Security Council, have expressed reservations about the idea of imposing sanctions, saying it could make matters worse.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for production of energy and its enrichment program is for research. Speaking on the day of the Security Council deadline for Iran to cease its enrichment activity, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he will not be intimidated into giving up his nation's right to nuclear technology.
Iran says it is ready for negotiations to resolve the dispute with the West.
European Union officials say EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana talked by telephone with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, and the two agreed to meet "soon."
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns will join counterparts from the other permanent Security Council members and Germany at talks about sanctions early next week in Europe.
U.S. officials say they are confident that at least a first set of penalties against Iran will be approved within weeks.