WASHINGTON – The president must keep open a military option in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program, Sen. John McCain (search) said Sunday, calling recent Bush comments appropriate.
"For us to say that the Iranians can do whatever they want to do and we won't under any circumstances exercise a military option would be for them to have a license to do whatever they want to do," the Arizona Republican said on "FOX News Sunday." "So I think the president's comment that we won't take anything off the table was entirely appropriate."
Bush said on Israeli TV on Friday that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran (search), which rejected Thursday's resolution from the United Nations' nuclear agency urging it to halt the conversion of uranium into gas.
The U.S. government and others fear Iran's nuclear work is secretly designed to produce nuclear weapons. Iran's leaders deny that, saying it is only for the generation of electricity.
McCain said one nonmilitary option still open to Bush is to let the U.N. take up the issue of Iran's "clear and blatant violations" of treaties it has signed. "Let's see how that plays out," McCain said.
Conversion of uranium into gas, which Iran does at its atomic plant in Isfahan, is a step before enrichment, which produces material usable for both energy-producing reactor fuel and atomic bombs.
After the International Atomic Energy Agency issued its appeal, diplomats familiar with the proceedings said Iran was being given until Sept. 3 to halt uranium conversion or risk being referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.