Obama Wants Iran Sanctions In Weeks, Not Months : The Two-Way President Barack Obama, riding the crest of his historic domestic-policy success on health care, appeared to be reaching for a major foreign-policy achievement, saying Tuesday that he wants new sanctions on Iran in weeks, not months, if that natio...
NPR logo Obama Wants Iran Sanctions In Weeks, Not Months

Obama Wants Iran Sanctions In Weeks, Not Months

President Barack Obama, at a joint news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he wanted new sanctions on Iran in a matter of weeks, not months. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Barack Obama, riding the crest of his historic domestic-policy success on health care, appeared to be reaching for a major foreign-policy achievement, saying Tuesday that he wants new sanctions on Iran in weeks, not months, if that nation doesn't accept international demands to cease its work on nuclear weapons.

At a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama said:

We said we would engage Iran and give them an opportunity to take
the right path: a path that would lead to prosperity and opportunity
for their people and a peaceful region, and one in which they would
allow themselves to become a full-fledged member of the community of
nations.

The alternative path was further isolation and further
consequences. We mobilized the international community around this
approach, including partners like Russia that in the past might have
been more hesitant to take a firmer stance on Iran's nuclear program.

What we said though was that there was going to be a time limit
to it and that if we had not seen progress, by the end of the year, it
was time for us to move forwards on that sanctions track.

My hope is that we are going to get this done this spring. So
I'm not interested in waiting months for a sanctions regime to be in
place. I'm interested in seeing that regime in place in weeks.

And we are working diligently with our international partners,
emphasizing to them that as Nicolas said, this is not simply an issue
of trying to isolate Iran. It has enormous implications for the
safety and the security of the entire region.

We don't want to see a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. A
conflict in the Middle East, as a consequence of Iran's actions, could
have a huge destabilizing effect in terms of the world economy, at a
time when it's just coming out of a very deep recession.

The long-term consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran are
unacceptable. And so Nicolas, myself and others agree that we have
engaged. The door remains open, if the Iranians choose to walk
through it.

The Obama Administration is trying to get the Chinese government to agree to new UN sanctions or, at the very least, to not veto such sanctions in the UN Security Council. Reports are that the Chinese appear to be softening their resistance to new sanctions.

The Russians, who initially opposed a new round of sanctions, have indicated to U.S. officials that they are now leaning towards punishing Iran.