Obama Vows New Bid to Halt Iran Nuclear Effort

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
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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 his Chinese and Russian counterparts 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. Mr. Obama said Beijing and Moscow agree that Iran cannot be allowed to weaponize its nuclear power and trigger a regional atomic arms race.

Last week's U.N. report alleges Iran has been working to acquire equipment and weapons design information. The report also say Tehran has been testing high explosives and detonators, and developing computer models of a warhead's core.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet that the 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.”

The Jewish state 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 the Chinese and Russian presidents to support his efforts to pressure Iran to stop its quest for nuclear weapons. But so far neither country has indicated that additional U.N. sanctions on Tehran will 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.