WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday called Iran a "real threat" and lashed out at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the country”s nuclear program and calls for the destruction of Israel.
"Iran”s a real threat," Bush told Fox News in an interview in which he repeated his charge that Iran was part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and prewar Iraq. "I called it part of the ”axis of evil” for a reason," Bush said.
"I”m concerned about a theocracy that has got little transparency, a country whose president has declared the destruction of Israel as part of their foreign policy, and a country that will not listen to the demands of the free world to get rid of its ambitions to have a nuclear weapon," Bush said in the interview.
Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who was elected president in June, said Israel must be "wiped off the map" in October, provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking fears about Iran”s nuclear ambitions.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad triggered another wave of international condemnation when he declared the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, a myth.
Washington accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is only for generating electricity.
In dealing with Iran, Bush said he continued "to work the diplomatic front," but that his objective was to "end tyranny."
To Iran”s leaders, Bush said, "I would hope they”d be wise enough to begin to listen to the people and allow the people to participate in their government."