A senior White House official says U.S. President Barack Obama will tell Iran the "door is open" to better relations with the international community if Tehran can demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.
President Obama signing Iran Sanction Law in July 2010
The U.S. deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, said
Monday Mr. Obama will use his address to the U.N. General Assembly Thursday to
stress to Iran that the cost of its uranium enrichment program will escalate if
it fails to meet its international obligations.
Rhodes said the impact of economic and financial sanctions imposed on Iran in response to its nuclear program has been "greater than expected."
Earlier Monday, Mr. Obama said military action against a nuclear-armed Iran is possible, but diplomacy would be a much better way to solve such a crisis.
Speaking at a televised public meeting in CNBC, Mr. Obama said the United States is keeping all its options open in dealing with Iran, or, as the president said, "keeping all our options on the table". But the president said military action by either the United States or Israel would not be "the ideal way" to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran.
U.S. military commanders have said any military action against Iran would be "incredibly destabilizing" throughout the Middle East. However, they have warned repeatedly that any acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would not be acceptable.
The United States and many other nations suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian energy program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York this week to attend the new U.N. General Assembly, says the nuclear-weapons charges are false.
Mr. Ahmadinejad complains the sanctions the U.N. has imposed on Iran for its defiance of Security Council rules about nuclear work are "illegal" and "insulting."
In Washington, senior U.S. Treasury official Stuart Levey, the U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Monday Iran's leadership was surprised by the speed, intensity and scope of the latest round of sanctions by the United States and its allies.
Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in Vienna the most recent report by the U.N. nuclear agency about Iran's atomic program is unfair and politically motivated.
The report found Tehran is pressing ahead with uranium enrichment in defiance of U.N. demands to stop, and that it is hampering the International Atomic Energy Agency's work by refusing U.N. inspectors access to Iranian nuclear sites.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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