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Bush Vows Support for Wounded Troops, Addresses Iran Threat

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2007 – America’s wounded troops are getting the best medical care possible, and the country is committed to ensuring the bureaucratic system serves them equally well, President Bush said today in Fredericksburg, Va.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marines from Quantico Marine Base Delta Company 1st Platoon look on as President George W. Bush boards Marine One before departing the White House for his trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia, Monday, Dec. 17, 2007. White House photo by Eric Draper
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Speaking to the Rotary Club of Stafford, Va., the president also told a questioner that Iran remains a threat to peace and needs to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities.

Bush told the Rotarians he feels “a particular sense of obligation to make sure that the man or woman I’ve sent into combat gets the very best care possible.”

He called the doctors and nurses providing military health care “fabulous,” noting that “the health care these troops are getting is excellent, no ands, ifs or buts about it.”

“I can look the parents … and loved ones of the troops in their eyes and say, ‘Your kid’s going to get fabulous health care, and they deserve it,’” he said.

The president conceded that problems like those that surfaced in February at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here detract from this care and said they won’t be tolerated. Bush called the Walter Reed situation “a bureaucratic foul-up” and noted that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates moved to fix the situation quickly. “That should show you our intensity in making sure that our troops get the very best care,” he said.

Bush said he and first lady Laura Bush will visit both Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., later this week. They’ll visit for two reasons, he said: “One, to tell those troops we love them, and two, to tell those docs and nurses who are working overtime to give them fabulous care this country appreciates what they're doing.”

Moving to questions about Iran, Bush pointed to the recent national intelligence estimate as proof that “Iran was a threat, Iran is a threat to peace, and Iran will be a threat to peace if we don’t stop their enrichment facilities.”

If Iran were able to produce a nuclear weapon, it would be a highly destabilizing force in the region, Bush said. He noted Iran’s threats to wipe out Israel as an example.

Iran owes the world an explanation about its suspended nuclear program, Bush said. “They need to make it clear to the international organization, the (International Atomic Energy Agency), what the program was all about and why they hid it from the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bush pledged that the United States will continue working with its friends and allies to apply diplomatic pressure aimed at convincing Iran to suspend its enrichment programs.

He noted that Russia is in the process of sending enriched uranium to Iran for use in its civilian nuclear reactor. “If the Russians are willing to do that … (and) the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich,” he said.

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