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President Warns Iran of ‘Serious Consequences’

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2008 – President Bush today warned Iran against attacking U.S. vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

“There will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple,” Bush said during a news conference in Jerusalem. “And my advice to them is, don't do it.”

Bush was referring to an incident in which five high-speed Iranian boats reportedly threatened to attack the USS Port Royal, USS Hopper and USS Ingraham as they were entering the Persian Gulf on Jan. 6.

Defense officials said the Iranian boats maneuvered aggressively, threatened the U.S. ships via radio and dropped objects into the water in the path of one of the ships.

The president said “our ships were moving along very peacefully off the Iranian border in territorial water -- international waters -- and Iranian boats came out and were very provocative. And it was a dangerous gesture on their part.”

Bush said that earlier in the day, Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, made it “abundantly clear that all options are on the table to protect our assets.”

During the news conference, Bush also addressed the threat to world peace posed by Iran’s attempts to gain nuclear weapons capability, and he urged the international community to pressure the country to abandon its uranium enrichment efforts.

“I believe that pressure -- economic pressure, financial sanctions – will cause the people inside of Iran to have to make a considered judgment about whether or not it makes sense for them to continue to enrich or face world isolation,” Bush said. “The country is paying an economic price for its intransigence and its unwillingness to tell the truth.”

Bush said Iran continues to pose a threat, even after halting its secret nuclear weapons program.

“A country which once had a secret program can easily restart a secret program,” he said. “A country which can enrich for civilian purposes can easily transfer that knowledge to a military program.”

Bush said the international community must recognize the threat Iran poses, and said the United States will continue working with countries in the region, and around the world, to encourage them to work together to confront that threat.

Bush emphasized that the United States has no quarrel with the Iranian people.

“It’s a people with a proud history and a great tradition, but they are being misled by their government,” he said. “The actions of their government are causing there to be isolation and economic stagnation.”

(John Valceanu of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)

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