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Bush, Putin Discuss Iran During White House Meeting


President Bush says he is confident Iran will be brought before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it does not abide by agreements limiting nuclear activities. Mr. Bush made the comment following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Bush and President Putin both say they do not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. It is how to prevent Tehran from doing so where the two leaders appear to split.

President Bush wants to bring Iran before the Security Council for economic sanctions now that Tehran has resumed activities toward enriching uranium, which could be used for a nuclear weapon.

U.S. diplomats at the United Nations are trying to convince allies to back a move toward sanctions. President Bush believes it will happen. "I am confident that the world will see to it that Iran goes to the U.N. Security Council if it does not live up to its agreements. And when that referral happens is a matter of diplomacy," he said.

In a joint press appearance with President Putin following talks at the White House, Mr. Bush said the two leaders are in agreement on the need to deny Iran nuclear weapons. "We agree that the Iranians shouldn't have a nuclear weapon. It's important for people to understand that when you share the same goal, it means that as you work diplomatically you are working toward that goal," he said.

President Putin said Russia opposes Iran becoming a nuclear power and will continue that opposition in the future under any circumstances. "Our position is very clear and understandable. We support all of the agreements on non-proliferation which include Iran among others fully, and we always in this regard been open with our partners, transparent completely," he said.

But President Putin stopped short of backing Washington's call for U.N. sanctions.

While President Bush says he believes Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program, President Putin is repeating what he has been told by Tehran - that the country has no ambitions for nuclear weapons and is interested only in peaceful civilian nuclear energy.

Russia is helping develop Iran's nuclear energy industry.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency meets next week it could vote to send Iran's case before the Security Council or it could decide to put off that vote.

Even if Iran is referred to the Council, Russia could block any possible sanctions with its permanent-member veto. China also has that veto power, and the White House says President Bush was unable to get a commitment on Iran during Wednesday talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.