Iran Nuclear NewsBarack Obama: new sanctions on Iran in weeks

Barack Obama: new sanctions on Iran in weeks

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ImageThe Times: New sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear weapons programme could be in place within weeks President Obama said yesterday. The Times

Giles Whittell, Washington

ImageNew sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear weapons programme could be in place within weeks President Obama said yesterday.

His remarks hinted at a breakthrough with Russia and China on an issue that has split the UN Security Council for years.

Mr Obama admitted that he has not yet built a united front at the UN against Iran but said: “My hope is that we’re going to get this done this spring. I’m not interested in waiting months. I am interested in seeing that [sanctions] regime in place within weeks.”

The bold forecast came as foreign ministers from the Group of Eight advanced economies condemned a nuclear programme that they said could only be for building a bomb, and a day after Hillary Clinton said for the first time that China shared the US view that “a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable”.

Mr Obama echoed the US Secretary of State at a joint White House press conference with President Sarkozy of France, who said that Iran could not continue its “mad race” towards nuclear power status.

Western negotiatiors have also made progress on the other main obstacle — Russian resistance based on its commercial and nuclear technology links to Tehran. The US-Russian relationship has grown closer thanks partly to personal interaction between President Obama and President Medvedev to secure the nuclear arms reduction treaty last Friday.

•An Iranian nuclear scientist who has been missing since June has defected to the US and is helping the CIA, ABC news reported last night.

Shahram Amiri, who disappeared during a pilgrimage to Mecca, defected as part of a long-planned operation, it said.

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