President George W. Bush said Wednesday that he thought Russia still wanted to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But stepping up his own rhetoric, the president warned that for Tehran to possess such a weapon raised the risk of a “World War III.”
That comment, made during a 45-minute news conference, came as reporters probed for the president’s reaction to a warning Tuesday by President Vladimir Putin of Russia against any military strikes on Iran to halt the nuclear work it has continued in defiance of much of the world. Iran says the program is purely peaceful.
“If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace,” Bush said. “So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested” in ensuring Iran not gain the capacity to develop such weapons.
“I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously,” he said.