U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said Tehran was under the “toughest sanctions” ever, as he defended his policy on Iran as part of an effort to halt the country’s nuclear agenda
“I think it’s very important to remember, particularly given some of the political noise out there, that this administration has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran ever,” Obama told reporters.
“When we came into office the world was divided. Iran was unified and moving aggressively on its own agenda,” he said.
“Today Iran is isolated and the world is unified and applying the toughest sanctions that Iran’s ever experienced, and (that) is having an impact inside of Iran.”
The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails to resolve a dispute over a program they suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Tehran denies any such ambition and says the program is for peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes only.
“Iran understands that they have a choice,” Obama said.
“They can brave that isolation by acting responsibly and foreswearing the development of nuclear weapons which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power... or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world,” he said.
“And if they are pursuing nuclear weapons, then I have said very clearly that is contrary to the national security interests of the United States, it is contrary to the national security interests of our allies, including Israel, and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.”
Tensions with the West rose after hardline students stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran last week in protest against new sanctions imposed after the U.N. nuclear agency suggested that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons.
Britain closed its embassy and France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands recalled their envoys.