June 9, 2006

Bush says Iran has “weeks not months” to respond

CAMP DAVID, Maryland (Reuters) - President George W. Bush
said on Friday that Iran has "weeks not months" to respond to a
U.S.-backed offer aimed at containing Iran's nuclear ambitions
and said Tehran needs to suspend uranium enrichment.

At a joint news conference with Danish Prime Minister
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bush said that if Iran does not suspend
enrichment, "there must be a consequence."

"We've given the Iranians a limited period of time -- you
know, weeks not months -- to digest a proposal to move forward.
And if they choose not to verifiably suspend their program,
then there will be action taken in the U.N. Security Council,"
Bush said.

Washington has offered to join European talks with Iran if
Tehran will verifiably suspend enrichment. That move coincided
with presentation of a package of incentives to Iran by major
powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and
Germany -- to curb its nuclear program.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said on
Thursday that Iran had this week launched a fresh round of
uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for power
plants or bombs, just as Solana delivered the package. He did
not set any deadline for a response.

European Union president Austria said on Friday Iran has
until the Group of Eight (G8) summit in July to consider the
incentives offer.

Washington and its allies believe that Tehran is seeking to
develop nuclear weapons, but Iran, the world's fourth largest
oil exporter, says its nuclear program is aimed only at
producing energy.