Extract from the remarks made by the US President George W. Bush in West Virginia Capitol Music Hall
Wheeling, West Virginia
March 22, 2006
Q Mr. President, I was wondering actually how you felt about America's double standard on nuclear energy, as far as countries like Iran, India, and Israel go?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I appreciate that. I may ask you to clarify your question of "double standard."
Q Well, how we don't allow Iran to have nuclear energy, yet we're supporting India.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, no, I got it, good, good, good.
Q And Israel's nuclear weapons --
THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't necessarily -- well, first of all, let me explain the policy and then you can draw whatever conclusion you want. First of all, it's in our interests that India use nuclear power to power their economic growth because, as I told you, there is a global connection between demand for fossil fuels elsewhere and price here. And so I went to India and I said -- actually, it's a very sophisticated question, by the way -- but I said, we ought to encourage you to use nuclear power.
Now, the difficulty with that issue, and that Congress is going to have to deal with, is that India has heretofore been denied technologies from the United States because of previous decisions they made about nuclear weaponry. My attitude is that over 30 years they have proven themselves to be a nonproliferator, that they're a transparent democracy; it's in our interest that they develop nuclear power for -- to help their economy grow -- they need power and they need energy to do so -- and they're willing to go under the safeguards of the IAEA, which is an international forum to make sure that there are certain safeguards.
Iran -- the Iranians are a nontransparent society. They're certainly not a democracy. They are sponsors of terrorism. They have joined the IAEA, and yet we caught them cheating. In other words, they weren't upholding the agreements, and they started to try to enrich uranium in order to develop a weapons program. India is heading to the IAEA; the Iranians are ignoring IAEA.
And so to answer your question about potential conflict of civilian energy power, I have said that I support the Russian proposal that says the Iranians should have a civilian nuclear industry, however Russia and other suppliers would give them the enriched -- the product necessarily to power their industry and collect the spent fuel, but not enable the Iranians to learn how to enrich in order to develop a weapons programs. That's I think how -- hold on for a second -- oop, oop, oop. (Laughter.) That's how we addressed the inconsistency on the power side, apparent inconsistency.
However, in that the Iranians are nontransparent, in that they are hostile to the United States and hostile to allies, we've got to be very careful about not letting them develop a weapon. And so we're now dealing with this issue diplomatically by having the Germans and the French and the British send a clear message to the Iranians, with our strong backing, that you will not have the capacity to make a weapon, the know-how to make a weapon. Iran with a nuclear weapon is a threat, and it's dangerous, and we must not let them have a weapon. (Applause.)