Barack Obama
Photo: AFP

Obama: Iranian economy in 'shambles'

In meeting with Jewish donors in New York, US president says Western sanctions caused severe damage to Iranian economy; reaffirms commitment to military, security cooperation with Israel

US President Barack Obama on Thursday met with Jewish donors in New York and declared that Western sanctions imposed on Iran have caused sever damage to its economy


Obama said that the US mobilized the world to impose "unprecedented sanctions" on Tehran and boasted the fact that Washington managed to get the support of China and Russia for the move. He noted the sanctions were “so effective, even the Iranians have had to acknowledge that their economy is in shambles."


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The statements come as Israel demands that Washington increase pressure on Tehran fearing further progress into nuclear weapons production. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that the current sanctions were ineffective.  


The president also repeated his unwavering support of Israel and said, "since I’ve been in office, we have unequivocally said that Israel’s security is non-negotiable." He also discussed the unprecedented level of military and security cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington.


Obama was repeating statements he made in an interview with Time magazine adding that he was very serious in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. "I have repeatedly said we don’t take any options off the table in preventing them from getting a nuclear weapon." It should be noted that Obama did not initially address the Iran issue during his speech but answered questions on the subject by the donors.


Koch changes direction

The meeting was held in a gourmet restaurant in Manhattan's Upper East Side and was attended by 100 representatives of the Jewish community who collectively donated some $500,000 to Obama's campaign.


Among the participants was former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who despite being a democrat fiercely criticized the president during his conflict with Netanyahu on the settlement construction issue. Koch has since changed his views and is wielding his influence in the Jewish community to get Obama reelected.


During the dinner, the president said that since entering the White House he has worked to ensure that Israel and the US maintain a stronger than ever security cooperation. "That’s not my opinion, by the way, that’s the Israeli government’s opinion,” he said.


One of the event's organizers, Alan Solow, told the Jewish daily Forward that Obama “made very clear that he’s serious about prohibiting Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon." He added that the president hopes to achieve those ends through sanctions, but that the Iranians are aware that all options are on the table.


Sarkozy urges tougher sanctions

Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is urging stronger, more decisive sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.


In an annual speech on French diplomacy Friday, Sarkozy accused Iran of lying and denounced what he called its "senseless race for a nuclear bomb."


He called for "much stronger, much more decisive" sanctions - "time is running out" and "everything must be done to avoid" international military intervention, he added.


AP contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 01.20.12, 10:44
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