By Sam Youngman - 03/30/10 09:57 PM EDT
President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCannabis conversation urged at North American Leaders Summit Obama: 'There's still work to do' for gay community Our most toxic export: American politick MORE on Tuesday called on the United Nations to impose sanctions on Iran by this spring.
During a joint press conference at the White House with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama said he wants to see a sanctions
regime in place, but conceded that he does not yet have international
“My hope is that we are going to get this done this spring,” said
Obama, who has come under intense pressure from Congress to take action
“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,"
Obama said his administration was working with international
partners such as France to win sanctions. He stressed that the issue
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
Sarkozy did not make any direct comments on Iran in response to a
question posed at the short press conference, but said he was satisfied
with what Obama had said on the issue.
Obama said that on the issue of confronting and preventing a nuclear
Iran, “the United States and France are united, are inseparable.”
Obama, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented a
united front last September at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, when the
three confronted Iran and gave them until the end of 2009 to halt its
That deadline is now well past, and Obama indicated Tuesday his patience has run out.
The president blamed the lack of unanimous support on other
countries that have oil interests in Iran. Russia and China, the other
two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have resisted
tougher sanctions on Iran.
Obama said he would “continue to apply pressure,” not just to the
Iranians but also to other countries on the fence about
Brazil and Turkey have also resisted imposing tougher
sanctions on Iran. The two countries are temporary members on the
Obama's call for action comes as he faces increased pressure from
members of Congress to get tough with Iran. Pressure in Congress has
percolated since last year's Iranian election, when the ruling regime
used force to quell street protests.
Lawmakers frustrated with inaction have intensified their push for
action. Unlikely allies Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Jesse Jackson Jr.
(D-Ill.) have circulated a letter urging the Obama administration to
get tough, and it has gained quick support.
"Iran's nuclear weapons program represents a severe threat to
American national interests ... It has now stored enough low enriched
uranium to serve as the core for two nuclear weapons," the letter
Seventy-six Democrats and 138 Republicans have signed on to the letter,
which commends Obama for attempting to engage with Iran for over a
year. It also reveals growing impatience on Capitol Hill with talks at
the United Nations, and states that "time is not on our side."
"We cannot allow those who would oppose or delay sanctions to govern
either the timing or content of our efforts," it says, in reference to
the lack of support at the Security Council from veto-wielders China
The president repeated his pledge Tuesday to keep diplomatic doors open
for Iran to walk through, but he said “in the interim we are going to
move forcefully toward a U.N. sanctions regime.”
Separately, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she expected
the U.S. could rally international consensus for sanctions against
Iran. At a meeting of foreign ministers in Canada on Tuesday, Clinton
reportedly said that the last 15 months had demonstrated the
"unwillingness of Iran to fulfill its international obligations,"
according to The Associated Press.
Clinton said this unwillingness was the basis for her optimism that
"we're going to have a consensus reached at the Security Council."
This story was updated at 8:02 p.m.