updated 1/20/2005 1:29:33 PM ET 2005-01-20T18:29:33

Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that he overestimated the pace of Iraq’s recovery from the U.S.-led invasion because he didn’t realize the lasting devastation wrought by Saddam Hussein on his people after the first Gulf War.

Asked to name his mistakes in planning the war in Iraq, Cheney said he had not anticipated how long it would take the Iraqis to begin running their own country. Not until after Saddam was ousted did the United States realize the extent of the Iraqi leader’s brutality in putting down revolt in 1991, Cheney said.

“I think the hundreds of thousands of people who were slaughtered at the time, including anybody who had the gumption to stand up and challenge him, made the situation tougher than I would have thought,” he said on “The Don Imus Show” on the radio.

“I would chalk that one up as a miscalculation, where I thought things would have recovered more quickly,” Cheney said.

Cheney, interviewed hours before he took the oath of office for his second term, also said that Iran now tops the list of “the world’s potential trouble spots.”

Iran is pursuing “a fairly robust nuclear program” and has a history of sponsoring terrorism, he said. “That combination is of great concern.”

Cheney said the Bush administration might seek U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program if necessary. The administration prefers to address the problem with diplomacy and doesn’t want more war in the Middle East, he said.

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