WASHINGTON – President Bush said Tuesday that "all options are on the table" to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, but said he will continue to focus on the international diplomatic option to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions.
"We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so," Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden.
Bush also said there should be a unified effort involving countries "who recognize the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon," and he noted that U.S. officials are working closely nations such as Great Britain, France and Germany on the issue."
As Bush spoke, diplomats from six countries converged in Moscow to map out the next step toward solving the Iranian nuclear standoff. The United States and Britain say that if Iran does not comply with the U.N. Security Council's April 28 deadline to stop uranium enrichment, they will seek a resolution that would make the demand compulsory but Russia and China remain wary of sanctions.
Bush said he intends to call on Chinese President Hu Jintao to step up pressure on Iran when the two leaders meet Thursday at the White House.
Iran has so far refused to give up uranium enrichment, which the United States and some of its allies suspect is meant to produce weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Bush was asked if his administration was planning for the possibility of a nuclear strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
"All options are on the table," he said.
On another topic, Bush said "I strongly deplore" Monday's attack in Tel Aviv, the deadliest suicide bombing in 20 months. Israel's leaders held the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority responsible for the attack, but stopped short of ordering a large-scale military operation.
Bush urged restraint, but angrily called on Palestinians to reject violence.
"It is unjust and it is unnecessary," he said. "I have consistently reminded all parties that they must be mindful of whatever actions they take and mindful of the consequences. ... For those who love peace in the Palestinian territories, they must stand up and reject this kind of violence."
The blast, which killed nine other people and wounded dozens outside a packed Tel Aviv fast-food restaurant, was carried out by a bomber from the Islamic Jihad militant group. Hamas leaders defended the attack as a justified response to Israeli "aggression" against the Palestinians.