"Iran must comply with the demands of the free world and that's where we sit right now," Mr. Bush said at an "Ask the President" campaign event in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Annandale, Va. "My attitude is that we've got to keep pressure on the government, and help others keep pressure on the government — so there's going to be universal condemnation of illegal weapons activities."
Mr. Bush stressed U.S. efforts to work with other nations to make sure the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency asks Iran "hard questions" about its weapons activities. "Foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain have gone in as a group to send a message on behalf of the free world," he said.
For 3½ years, the administration has insisted to a largely disbelieving world that Iran was developing a dangerous nuclear capability. The administration is contending now that its doggedness is paying off.
Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, had said Sunday that the world finally is "worried and suspicious" over the Iranians' intentions and is determined not to let Tehran produce a nuclear weapon.
In appearances on two nationally broadcast interview shows, she said the United States would act alone to end the program if the administration could not win international support.
For its part, Iran said Monday the international community has no reason to be suspicious about its nuclear ambitions, despite allegations by the United States that it is trying to produce nuclear weapons.
"Iran has not violated any of its commitments to international treaties in its nuclear program," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Kharrazi announced a week ago that his country had resumed building nuclear centrifuges. He said at the time that his country was retaliating for the West's failure to force the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to close its file on possible Iranian violations of nuclear nonproliferation rules.
But Kharrazi also said Iran was not resuming enrichment of uranium, which requires a centrifuge. He said that Tehran had restarted manufacturing the device because Britain, Germany and France had not stopped the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.
At one point on Monday, Mr. Bush started to say that the United States got Iran to sign an agreement that would permit inspections, but then quickly corrected himself to say the "world" got the Iranians to sign a protocol to allow site inspections.
Rice, appearing on CNN"s "Late Edition," said, "The United States was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way, to try and convince the international community that Iran was trying, under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, to actually bring about a nuclear weapons program."
"I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the (IAEA) to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities," she said. "Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps."
Mr. Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union address, included Iran with North Korea and Iraq in an "axis of evil" dedicated to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Since then, North Korea has publicly resumed its nuclear development program. In Iraq, invading U.S.-led forces have found no such programs after President Saddam Hussein was deposed.