WASHINGTON -- President Bush said yesterday he would not rule out military action against Iran if Tehran is not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons program.
"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush told NBC News, adding that he could act if Iran "continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."
Iran denies that it has been trying to make nuclear weapons.
Bush's comments followed Pentagon criticism yesterday of a published report that it was mounting reconnaissance missions in Iran to identify potential nuclear and other targets. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said Sunday's article in The New Yorker magazine was "so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed."
The report said Bush authorized secret commando groups and other special-forces military units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia. DiRita and other Pentagon officials did not comment on whether military forces had been doing reconnaissance in Iran.
The New York Times reported today the Bush administration imposed penalties on eight Chinese firms it thinks aided Iran in improving ballistic missiles. The State Department did not name the technology allegedly exported. The firms are barred from doing business with the US government.