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Bush backs Russian nuclear plan for Iran
US President George W. Bush on Thursday backed a Russian proposal to resolve a nuclear stalemate with Tehran and said the United States supported democratic reformers in Iran.
The Bush administration has accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear energy program. Washington and its European allies want Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, but Russia and China have urged caution.
People ought to be allowed to have civilian nuclear power, Bush told a White House news conference. But he said he did not believe "non-transparent regimes that threaten the security of the world" should be allowed to gain the technology necessary to make an atomic weapon.
Bush laid out conditions for an "acceptable alternative" for Iran.
"That the material used to power the plant would be manufactured in Russia, delivered under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors to Iran, to be used in that plant, the waste of which will be picked up by the Russians and returned to Russia."
"I think that is a good plan," he said. "The Russians came up with the idea and I support it."
Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and it has every right to pursue atomic power as an energy source.
But Bush said Iran had shown by its actions that it wanted a nuclear weapon.
"And it's not in the world's interests that they have a weapon," he said.
Bush, who said on Monday he had "no beef with the Iranian people" but has criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Israel comments, offered U.S. backing for reformers.
"We will support freedom movements all around the world," he said. "We will work with groups that demand for people to be given the natural rights of men and women and that right is to live in a free society."
While U.S. public policy on Iran is focused on blocking Tehran from building a nuclear weapon, the State Department is also spending millions of dollars on grant programs in the country in an effort to boost democracy.
Spreading democracy and freedom, especially in Muslim countries, is high on Bush's foreign policy agenda. It has been criticized by some as a misguided attempt to impose U.S. values and political beliefs.