Bush warns nuclear Iran could spur 'World War III'
U.S. president slams Ahmadinejad's call to destroy Israel; Israel calls for new UN resolution on Iran.
United States President George W. Bush on Wednesday warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to a third world war because of the Islamic state's determination to destroy Israel.
"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," Bush said, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday called for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran, aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
At a news conference in Jerusalem after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Livni said, "I do believe there is a need for another Security Council resolution. In the past, the need to get everybody on board, including Russia and China, led to some compromises on the nature of the sanctions. I hope this will not [be] the case this time."
Rice said the council is working on a new resolution, and the U.S. would follow that route if negotiations with Iran fail.
Israel considers Iran a serious threat because of repeated calls by its president for the destruction of Israel and its assumed goal of building nuclear weapons. Iran denies that its nuclear program is military in nature.
Bush's warnings of potential global conflict came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Ahmadinejad in Tehran and stated there was no evidence to support western accusations that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Bush said he was eager to hear from Putin about his conversations with Ahmadinejad and whether the Russian leader remained determined to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Bush said he wanted Putin to "clarify" his remarks.
"He understands that it's in the world's interests to make sure that Iran does not have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said.
"If he wasn't concerned about it, then why do we have such good progress at the United Nations?" Bush said.
Putin has backed two UN Security Council resolutions imposing limited sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, but has been reluctant to come down too hard on Tehran over concerns it would undermine the diplomatic effort to keep Iran from developing atomic weapons.
Iran maintains the process is solely for producing civilian energy.
Bush urges Turkey not to launch offensive into Iraq Earlier Wednesday, Bush said that the U.S. has made clear to Turkey that it should not launch a cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.
At a White House news conference, Bush also repeated calls for the Democratic-controlled Congress to drop plans for a resolution labeling as genocide the World War I-era killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
Noting the number of domestic bills pending before Congress, he said, "one thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire."
U.S.-Turkish relations have been strained by the Armenian genocide resolution and by the prospect of Turkey launching an offensive against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Bush spoke as Turkey's parliament voted overwhelmingly to empower its government to order troops into Iraq.
"We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don't think it is in their interest to send troops into Iraq," Bush said.
"Actually they have troops already stationed in Iraq and they've had troops stationed there for quite a while," he said. "We don't think it's in their interest to send more troops in."
Bush said he talked about Turkey with Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, on Wednesday. He also noted that Tariq al-Hashimi, one of Iraq's vice presidents, was in Istanbul expressing that Iraq shares Turkey's concerns about terrorist activities, but that there is a better way to deal with the issue than having turkey send additional troops into the country.
"What I'm telling you is that there's a lot of dialogue going on and that's positive," he said.
Bush used the news conference, his first since Sept. 20, to prod the Democratic-controlled Congress to approve spending, education and health issues.
He also urged Congress to approve trade deals that would strengthen U.S. allies.