Obama wants Iran sanctions within ‘weeks’


Washington: US President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that he wants to see the UN Security Council adopt sanctions against Iran within “weeks” over the Islamic republic’s refusal to resolve the dispute over its nuclear activities.

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“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 at a press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Iran was at the top of the agenda during Sarkozy’s first visit to the White House since Obama took office, and the French leader was unwavering in his support for additional sanctions.

“We will make all the necessary efforts to ensure that Europe as a whole engages in the sanctions regime,” Sarkozy said through a translator.

Obama accused Iran of rejecting his overtures to resolve the dispute diplomatically. He said the door remains open for negotiations, but his administration will move forward on persuading the Security Council to enact sanctions.

The US, France and other allies suspect Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists its work is solely for civilian energy.

Obama and Sarkozy also discussed the conflict in Afghanistan, but the US president did not request additional French troops, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. The Afghan conflict is unpopular in France, which has limited its troop deployment to about 3,700.

Obama is boosting the US presence there by 30,000 troops this year.

The two leaders discussed the Middle East peace process, climate change, the global economic recovery, trade and financial regulation.

While the United States, Britain and France have backed sanctions against Iran, the other two permanent members of the Security Council – China and Russia – have been reluctant to get behind stronger measures.