U.S. President Barack Obama says sanctions on Iran are having “enormous bite and scope” and that he will consult with China and Russia on more steps to pressure Tehran to stop its controversial nuclear program.
Mr. Obama, speaking after the APEC summit in Hawaii Sunday, said he is not taking any options off the table regarding Iran.
The president met with Russian and Chinese leaders at the summit to discuss a new report from the U.N. nuclear agency that found “credible” evidence of Iranian efforts to design a nuclear weapon.
Earlier Sunday, Israel demanded tougher international action against Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet the recent U.N. report proves Iran is “systematically developing nuclear weapons” and that every responsible government must draw the “obvious conclusions.”
Mr. Netanyahu called for the international community to stop Iran’s race for nuclear weapons, which he said endangers the peace of the entire world. He said there are two ways to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – crippling sanctions and a credible military option.
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, and has been alarmed by statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe the Jewish state “off the map.”
Israel has threatened to take military action against Iran on its own if the international community fails to act. But Iran has warned that if Israel or the United States launch an attack on its nuclear facilities, Tehran will retaliate with “an iron fist.”
Earlier, Mr. Obama urged Russian and Chinese leaders to support his efforts to pressure Iran to stop its quest for nuclear weapons.
U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said all three leaders are united in their opposition to Iran becoming a nuclear-armed nation. However, Russia and China have said additional U.N. sanctions on Iran will not resolve the nuclear dispute.
Western powers have warned that Iran faces more sanctions if it fails to address their concerns raised in the U.N. report. Iran rejected the report and insisted its nuclear program is peaceful.