Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Bush makes it clear:

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - President George W. Bush vowed on Wednesday the United States would defend Israel militarily if needed against Iran and denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for "menacing talk" against Israel.

In a Reuters interview aboard Air Force One en route to Nashville, Bush also said he saw a "very good chance" the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency would refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

"I am concerned about a person that, one, tries to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, and two, has made it clear that his intentions are to destroy Israel," Bush said.

"Israel is a solid ally of the United States, we will rise to Israel's defense if need be. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It's not only disturbing to the United States, it's disturbing for other countries in the world as well," he added.

Asked if he meant the United States would rise to Israel's defense militarily, Bush said: "You bet, we'll defend Israel."

Bush also said he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Iran and would not say how Putin feels about a Security Council referral. "He understands the threat, and we share the same goal," he said.

Bush said on Tuesday in his State of the Union speech that Iran is being "held hostage" by clerical leaders who repress their people.

Asked in the interview if he was calling for Iranians to rise up and overthrow the ruling government, Bush said: "Not at all. What I am saying is that ... the United States is very aware of their conditions and we recognize that liberty is universal and that we hope some day they will be in a position to have a democracy based upon Iranian customs and Iranian traditions."