New York Times: President Obama predicted on Tuesday that he would be able to persuade the United Nations to “move forcefully” against Iran with new sanctions within weeks, not months, as he turned up the pressure on Tehran to back off its nuclear program.
The New York Times
By PETER BAKER
WASHINGTON — President Obama predicted on Tuesday that he would be able to persuade the United Nations to “move forcefully” against Iran with new sanctions within weeks, not months, as he turned up the pressure on Tehran to back off its nuclear program.
“We think that we can get sanctions within weeks,” Mr. Obama told reporters after meeting at the White House with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who has been pressing for an aggressive approach to Iran.
But Mr. Obama acknowledged that there was still no consensus among the members of the Security Council. “Now, do we have unanimity in the international community?” he asked rhetorically. “Not yet. And that’s something we have to work on.”
Mr. Obama’s remarks came hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met in Canada with foreign ministers from the Group of 8, who issued a statement casting doubt on Iran’s claims that it is seeking a peaceful energy source rather than nuclear arms. “We see a growing awareness on the part of many countries, including China, as to the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran to regional and global stability,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The American assertiveness may reflect growing confidence that the administration can persuade China to let a tough sanctions resolution through the Security Council, where it has a veto. China so far has resisted the harshest measures proposed by the Americans and Europeans, but in recent days has begun engaging in more talks.
Mr. Sarkozy, in his first visit to the White House since Mr. Obama took office, made clear his desire for “strong, tough sanctions,” gently prodding Mr. Obama to move decisively. “The time has come to take decisions,” he said. “Iran cannot continue its mad race.”
Facing political problems at home after his party’s defeat in regional elections this month, Mr. Sarkozy arrived in the United States with a sharp message urging more leadership in creating global financial regulations to prevent another economic crisis. In a speech on Monday at Columbia University, he said that America “should reflect on what it means to be the world’s No. 1 power” and that the world needed “an America that listens.”
Mr. Sarkozy softened his tone at the White House, where he and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were to join the president and the first lady, Michelle Obama, for a private dinner. Mr. Sarkozy again pushed for a “new world international monetary order” but praised Mr. Obama, saying “there’s a lot of trust” despite their differences. “There may be disagreements but never for the wrong reasons,” he said.
Mr. Obama passed off Mr. Sarkozy’s comments at Columbia with a joke. “I listen to Nicolas all the time,” he said. “I can’t stop listening to him.”
Ian Austen contributed reporting from Gatineau, Quebec.