Obama: Pleased with Russia
Photo: AP

Obama: Working on new sanctions for Iran

US president says Tehran pursuing nuclear weapons, world united on country's 'misbehavior', but nuclear experts tell Ynet China not likely to sign off on sanctions

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a new push toward international sanctions against Iran is moving along fairly quickly and should be completed in the next few weeks.


In an impromptu news conference, Obama provided his most extensive comments about Iran in weeks, saying that despite Tehran's denials it is clear to him that Iran is pursuing a path toward "nuclear weaponization."  

Tuesday's White House press conference (Photo: AP)


Iran said on Sunday it would enrich uranium to 20-percent purity for a reactor making isotopes for cancer patients. On Tuesday it announced the work had begun.


"What we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them how isolated they are from the international community as a whole," Obama told reporters at the White House. 


He said the international community is looking at a significant regime of sanctions that will provide a "variety of ways" to apply pressure to Iran's government, without detailing them.


Obama said the United States is confident the world is "unified around Iran's misbehavior in this area."


Of two allies who have been reluctant to approve new UN sanctions in the past, Russia and China, Obama said he was pleased by how Russia has been "forward-leaning" lately but was uncertain about China.


"How China operates at the Security Council as we pursue sanctions is something we're going to have to see," he said.


Obama said it was unclear who actually speaks for the Iranian government, saying it was giving "mixed signals."


Experts: Sanctions unlikely

Nuclear experts told Ynet Tuesday evening that it was not likely Western powers would succeed in imposing the sanctions extolled by Obama, in light of China's known stance.


Ephraim Asculai, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said Iran was well on its way to achieving nuclear prowess.


"From the moment they have enriched uranium to 20-percent purity, most of the work in achieving a military level of enrichment has been completed, and the distance left is not significant," he said.


"However it may very well be a method of defiance aimed at pressuring the West," Asculai added. "It is a very serious step, and should have been prevented long ago."


Emily Landau, also a senior researcher at the INSS, agrees China would make it nearly impossible to impose sanctions through the UN. However she also believes the West will have trouble imposing private sanctions on Iran.


"The option of sanctions outside the Security Council exists, but they keep saying 'soon' and we have not yet seen any steps taken," she told Ynet.


Landau added that the US would not likely impose sanctions either. "President Obama has decided he will only act within a multi-sided framework. He has reservations about imposing sanctions privately, and if he doesn't do so soon, they will not be effective in any case," she concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 02.09.10, 21:39
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