Bush threatens new Iran sanctions, EU backs him
US President George W Bush on Thursday urged the world to get tougher with Iran if the Islamic republic refuses to suspend uranium enrichment, and he expressed understanding for talk in Israel about possible military action, reported dpa.
"Now's the time for there to be strong diplomacy," Bush said after meeting top European Union officials in Slovenia. "There's a lot of urgencies when it comes to dealing with Iran."
In a joint statement issued at the EU-US summit, both sides agreed to consider additional sanctions against Iranian banks so they "cannot abuse the international banking system to support proliferation and terrorism."
Bush said he, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa discussed Iran extensively at the three-hour meeting. He indicated they agreed on how to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran - a prospect he called "incredibly dangerous for world peace."
"We're on the same page," Bush told a post-summit news conference.
Addressing Iran's leaders, he said: "We'll find new sanctions if need be if you continue to deny the just demands of the free world, which is to give up your enrichment programme."
Iran has defied UN Security Council calls to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be a step toward building nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is only for electricity generation.
Days before Bush's trip, his last European tour before leaving office in January, Israeli cabinet member Shaul Mofaz threatened that his country may attack Iran if it refuses to back down on its nuclear programme. That followed a high-profile visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Asked about speculation that Israel or the US were preparing to strike Iran, Bush sought to make plain that the US backs European-led diplomacy and the threat of tighter sanctions to change Tehran's mind.
He welcomed EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's planned trip to Iran this weekend for fresh talks with the Iranians. At the same time, he evoked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated threats to wipe Israel off the map.
"If you were living in Israel, you'd be a little bit nervous too if a leader in your neighborhood announced that they would like to destroy you," Bush said. "Now's the time for all of us to work together to stop them."