Press Conference of the President - Iran Excerpts
The White House, President Bush's Remarks: READ HERE
Q Mr. President, it was four years ago when you fist met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. You said you looked into his eyes and you saw his soul. You'll also be meeting with the Russian leader in about a week or so. What do you think of Putin now that he has expressed a willingness to supply weapons to outlaw regimes, specifically his recent comments that he said he would provide short-range missiles to Syria and nuclear components to Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: We have -- first, just on a broader -- kind of in a broader sense, I had a long talk with Vladimir there in Slovakia about democracy and about the importance of democracy. And as you remember, at the press conference -- or if you weren't there, somebody will remember -- he stood up and said he strongly supports democracy. I take him for his word.
I -- and we'll continue to work. Condi just -- Condi Rice, our Secretary of State, just came back and she briefed me that she had a very good discussion with Vladimir about the merits of democracy, about the need to listen to the people and have a government that's responsive.
We're working closely with the Russians on -- on the issue of vehicle-mounted weaponry to Syria. We didn't appreciate that, but we made ourselves clear. As to Iran, what Russia has agreed to do is to send highly enriched uranium to a nuclear civilian power plant, and then collect that uranium after it's used for electricity -- power purposes. That's what they've decided to do.
And I appreciate that gesture. See, what they recognize is that -- what America recognizes, and what Great Britain, France, and Germany recognize, is that we can't trust the Iranians when it comes to enriching uranium; that they should not be allowed to enrich uranium.
And what the Iranians have said was, don't we deserve to have a nuclear power industry just like you do? I've kind of wondered why they need one since they've got all the oil, but nevertheless, others in the world say, well, maybe that's their right to have their own civilian nuclear power industry. And what Russia has said: Fine, we'll provide you the uranium, we'll enrich it for you and provide it to you, and then we'll collect it. And I appreciate that gesture. I think it's -- so I think Vladimir was trying to help there. I know Vladimir Putin understands the dangers of a Iran with a nuclear weapon. And most of the world understands that, as well. ...
Q Do you feel that the number of troops that you've kept there is limiting your options elsewhere in the world? Just today you had the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency say that he was now concerned that the North Koreans, for example, could put a weapon, a nuclear weapon on a missile that could reach Japan or beyond. Do you feel, as you are confronting these problems, the number of troops you've left tied up in Iraq is limiting your options to go beyond the diplomatic solutions that you described for North Korea and Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I appreciate that question. The person to ask that to, the person I ask that to, at least, is to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, my top military advisor. I say, do you feel that we've limited our capacity to deal with other problems because of our troop levels in Iraq? And the answer is, no, he doesn't feel we're limited. He feels like we've got plenty of capacity. ...