Bush backs Iran nuke pledge
(CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell while praising Iran's decision to allow tougher U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities and to suspend its uranium enrichment program, have urged Tehran to follow through with action.
Dr. Hassan Rowhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, made the announcement of the moves on Tuesday after meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Rowhani said Iran would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is voluntarily making the moves to "promote international good will, create stability, and put an end to tensions."
President Bush praised the work of the European leaders "for taking a very strong, universal message to the Iranians that they should disarm."
"The Iranians look like they're accepting the demands of the free world, and now it's up to them to prove that they've accepted the demands," Bush said during a news conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya on the sidelines of Sudanese peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Wednesday also praised Iran's announcement and stressed that Iran's performance is what counts.
Powell said Washington wants to ensure that Iran follows through on its statement, noting that within hours of Tuesday's announcement, Iranian officials were making other statements with respect to what suspension means and for how long.
The Iranian official said the suspension of uranium enrichment would begin immediately but that some portions of the plan must be approved by the Iranian parliament. He gave no timetable for when that would happen.
A joint declaration from Rowani, Straw, de Villepin, and Fischer, issued following Tuesday's meeting said, "The Iranian Government has decided to sign the IAEA Additional Protocol and commence ratification procedures.
As a confirmation of its good intentions, the Iranian Government will continue to co-operate with the Agency in accordance with the Protocol in advance of its ratification."
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is only intended for civilian purposes, the production of electricity. However, the United States and others have said Iran needed to demonstrate that it does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Iran invited the ministers to Tehran for talks.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that talks with the three ministers were going well. He again insisted that Iran has the right to have a nuclear program but said Iran has no problem with "transparency."
"I insisted on transparency, and I also announced Iran's readiness for full transparency because we are not pursuing an illegitimate (nuclear) program, but definitely our rights must be respected. Whatever is legitimate for us must be respected," Kharrazi told state television following a round of talks.
The IAEA had given Iran until October 31 to agree to wider inspections of its nuclear program. If Iran had not agreed, the IAEA said the next step would have been to take its concerns to the U.N. Security Council.
Asked at the news conference if the Iranian action would satisfy the demands of the United States and others, Fischer did not answer directly but said that the three ministers had been in contact with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
The joint declaration said Iranian authorities "reaffirmed that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defense doctrine and that its nuclear programmed and activities have been exclusively in the peaceful domain."
The declaration add that once "international concerns, including those of the three Governments, are fully resolved, Iran could expect easier access to modern technology and supplies in a range of areas."
In addition it says Germany, France and Britain will "co-operate with Iran to promote security and stability in the region, including the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations."
-- CNN's State Department Producer Sally Holland contributed to this story