U.S. Says Iran Nuclear Move Could Be Positive Step

The Bush administration said Tuesday that Iran's agreement to allow nuclear inspections and suspend uranium (search) enrichment "would be a positive step in the right direction" if it lives up to its commitments.

"Full compliance by Iran will now be essential," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on a trip with President Bush in Asia.

Iran has been denounced by President Bush as part of an "axis of evil" (search) along with North Korea and Iraq when it was under the rule of Saddam Hussein. The administration has said there was no legitimate reason for oil-rich Iran to have a nuclear program, which Tehran says is a peaceful program for energy purposes.

Iran pledged to foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France to suspend uranium enrichment and allow spot checks of its nuclear program as sought by the U.N. watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (search).

McClellan said the United States welcomes the foreign minister's efforts, but reserved judgment about what Iran will actually do.

"If Iran does sign and implement the additional protocol, cooperate fully with the IAEA and end its uranium enrichment reprocessing activities, it would be a positive step in the right direction," McClellan said.

"As British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, the proof of the value of today's agreement will depend not just on the words in the communique but above all on the implementation of what's agreed," the press secretary said.

"What's important about today's announcement is the commitment by Iran," McClellan said. "What's most important is that Iran fully comply and now implement what they've committed to."