Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bush "backed down on Iran threat"

Iran says US President George Bush has been forced to back down in his tussle with Tehran over its nuclear plans.

Mr Bush said on Tuesday the notion that the US was preparing to attack Iran to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons was "simply ridiculous".

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said the US realised there was no support for its "unacceptable" claims against Iran, so had withdrawn its threats.

Iran denies it is trying to build nuclear weapons.

It says it only wants nuclear power for peaceful, energy-production purposes.

Mr Khatami said: "Sometimes America speaks with a sharp tongue.

"But this threatening language is not practical. They recently realised that such claims are unacceptable and could be problematic even for their own people. This is why they have changed their tone."

"America is inexperienced and ill-informed, and it should not patronise us," he added.

Although Mr Bush dismissed talk of an imminent attack on Iran, he would not rule out a strike at some time, saying all options remained.

On Wednesday, in Germany, he said it was important the world should "speak with one voice" on Iran.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said: "We absolutely agree that Iran must say no to any kind of nuclear weapons."

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Wednesday his country is about to resume enriching uranium.

The Iranian News Agency, IRNA, quoted Kharrazi as saying "no one can stop the uranium enrichment process in Iran."

Kharrazi said Iran is talking with three European countries about its nuclear program "in order to erase their worries and concerns regarding any intention to produce nuclear weapons."