Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is committed to resolving the conflict with Iran diplomatically and that a recent Senate resolution doesn't open the door to military action.
President George W. Bush has been clear ``that he's on a diplomatic path'' in attempting to block Iran from gaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon, she said.
A resolution passed by the Senate in September urging the administration to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization won't be used as a pretext for a military confrontation, as some congressional Democrats have contended, she said today on ABC's ``This Week'' program.
``There is nothing in this particular resolution that would suggest that,'' she said. ``This resolution is saying that there need to be strong measures taken against Iran, which we have definitely done.''
Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced on Oct. 25 new U.S. sanctions intended to curb access to the international financial system by the Revolutionary Guard, an arm of Iran's military. The U.S. accuses the Revolutionary Guard of helping spread weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorists.
Iran has defied two United Nations Security Council resolutions backed by sanctions ordering it to suspend a uranium enrichment program. Iran, with the world's second-largest oil and natural gas reserves, denies its effort has a military goal and says it wants the technology to generate electricity.
Bush previously warned that allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon risked igniting ``World War III'' because of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats against Israel and the West.
Iran was at the top of the agenda when Bush met yesterday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While both said they agreed that stronger sanctions may be necessary, Merkel indicated she wanted to await the outcome of negotiations by the United Nations and the European Union.
Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a Democratic presidential candidate who voted against the Senate resolution, said he's ``encouraged'' by Rice's remarks. He added that he still has concerns about the administration's ``pattern of behavior.'' He and some other Democrats likened the Iran resolution to the congressional vote that authorized the administration to take military action against Iraq in 2002.
``You'll excuse us if we feel worried and burned by an administration that in the past has used those resolutions as a justification for going forward'' with stronger action, Dodd in a separate interview on the ABC program. ( Bloomberg )