INTERNATIONAL

Iran sanctions within weeks: Obama

Narayan Lakshman

Washington DC: President Obama on Wednesday said he believed the U.S. and the international community could have United Nations sanctions against Iran “within weeks,” over Iran's alleged nuclear development programme.

Speaking at a press conference with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr. Obama said the U.S. had made clear that there would be a time limit to the engagement-based approach, and if progress was not evident by the end of the year, it would be time to move forwards on that sanctions track.

“I am not interested in waiting months for a sanctions regime to be in place. I am interested in seeing that regime in place in weeks, and we are working diligently with our international partners,” said Mr. Obama, adding that the U.S. would “move forcefully on a U.N. sanctions regime”.

‘No unanimity yet'

However he acknowledged that support for sanctions might not be as forthcoming as he had hoped: “Do we have unanimity [regarding the need for sanctions] in the international community? Not yet, and that's something we have to work on.”

The President also conceded that conflict in West Asia as a consequence of Iran's actions could have a “huge destabilising effect” in terms of the world economy, which was just coming out of a very deep recession.

In an indication of U.S. concern over the risk of a spike in global oil prices Mr. Obama said, “Let's be honest, Iran is an oil producer and a lot of countries around the world, regardless of Iran's offences, are thinking that their commercial interests are more important to them than these long term geo-political interests.”