US president Barack Obama tried to ramp up his rhetoric against Iran - but continued to focus on sanctions as he discussed the future.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/8/2011, 10:40 PM
President Barack Obama on Thursday tried to take a harder line on Iran saying "I'm considering all options."
Obama, whose administration has pursued a sanctions-only approach to stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions, has come under intense criticism not only from his would-be Republican challengers for 2012, but his own party as well.
The Democrat-led US Sentate voted 100-0 on Wednesday to repudiate Obama's sanctions stance on Iran calling on his to take stronger action - including military action if need be.
Despite the sharpened rhetoric coming out of the White House, Obama refused to discuss a potential military strike on Iran and continued to laud his sanctions as being effective in isolating the Islamic Republic.
Q: "On Iran, we've heard some sharper language from members of your administration about Iran recently. Are you intentionally trying to ramp up the pressure on Iran? And given that you stated that no options are off the table, should we take that to mean that you are considering some other options?"
Obama: "No options off the table means I’m considering all options."
Q: "Can you tell us specifically what those options might be?"
Obama: "No. But what I can say with respect to Iran, 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 Iraq -- on Iran ever.
"When we came into office, the world was divided, Iran was unified and moving aggressively on its own agenda. Today, Iran is isolated, and the world is unified in applying the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever experienced. And it's having an impact inside of Iran. And that's as a consequence of the extraordinary work that's been done by our national security team.
"Now, Iran understands that they have a choice: They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and foreswearing the development of nuclear weapons, which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power, like every other country that's a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world.
"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's contrary to the national security interests of our allies, including Israel; and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.