Bush Says Iran's Nukes Now an Issue for U.N. Cites Tehran's Lack of Response on Offer

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STRALSUND, Germany - President Bush said yesterday that Iran's "deadline passed" on responding to a coalition of countries that are demanding the nation give up its nuclear ambitions and said the matter is now fully in the hands of the U.N. Security Council.

Meeting with a new ally in this town on the Baltic Sea, the president said Iranian leaders did not meet the deadline of "weeks, not months" set in May because "they evidently didn't believe us."

"Their deadline passed, right. That's why we're going to the U.N. Security Council," Mr. Bush said in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs. Merkel was elected in November and took over from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who vehemently opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and ran for re-election on an anti-American theme.

Yesterday, Mrs. Merkel strongly supported Mr. Bush's stance on Iran.

"The international community actually submitted a very substantial, very fundamental offer to Iran, starting from the firm view that Iran should not be in possession of a nuclear weapon," she said.

Iran's president responded later yesterday by saying the nation would not abandon its right to nuclear technology.

"Our answer .. is clear, the Iranian nation abides by international laws and regulations but will not abandon its obvious right to obtain nuclear technology," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state TV.

"We are trying to investigate the proposed package positively," Mr. Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iran would give its final reply by Aug. 22 despite pressure for a swifter response.

Both Mr. Bush and Mrs. Merkel urged world leaders especially Russian President Vladimir Putin to unite to oppose Iran's stated plan to develop nuclear weapons and technology. …