Bush wants to influence Iran via German Chancellor Schroeder

On Monday, US President George Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder discussed in the White House the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also the developments in the Middle East and the European Union.

During the discussion on Iran President Bush told Chancellor Schroeder that they should continue working with leaders of France and the UK to send a unified message to Iran that development of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, reports AP.

Germany, France and Britain have offered Iran economic concessions if Tehran permanently halts all uranium-enrichment activities. The United States alleges Iran's enrichment program is aimed at building atomic weapons. Bush urged that with Great Britain, France and Germany shuold send a “focused, concerted, unified message that says the development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable and a process which would enable Iran to development a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."

As the two leaders were also to discuss the idea of a German seat on the U.N. Security Council, to which the United States had opposed, Schroeder had nothing to do but agree with Bush's message. "We're going to continue being tough and firm on all of that," he said after the meeting with Bush.

As a result, after the meeting Schroeder said there might be differences between the United States and Germany on the timing of expanding the Security Council. But he said he was "happy to hear there was no opposition to Germany, as such" becoming a permanent member of the council. As an argument Schroeder used the contributions Germany is making to peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans and the help it is providing to train Iraqi security forces.

Iran's 20-year-old nuclear program was revealed in 2002.

The United States alleges the program is aimed at building atomic weapons. Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity. Uranium enriched to low levels has energy uses, while highly enriched uranium can be used in bombs.

Iran suspended all uranium enrichment-related activities in November to avoid possible sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, but it said all along the suspension was temporary. France, Britain and Germany have offered economic incentives in hopes of persuading Iran to permanently halt enrichment.

After the election of Iran's ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new President there were fears that the program would be resumed. The fears came true on Sunday when Ahmadinejad vowed to restart the enrichment program, saying Iran needs "peaceful nuclear technology for energy, medical and agricultural purposes."

According to Deutsche Welle, relations between the US and Germany became furiously strained around the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq and it wasn't until Bush visited Germany at the start of the year that things between the two countries began to normalize.

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