US President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned Iran that the diplomatic window for dealing with its nuclear program is "shrinking."
Obama said he still preferred a diplomatic track for getting Iran to abandon its nuclear program, but added that "requires someone on the other side of the table who is taking the matter seriously."
He added that he hoped Iran understands that diplomacy is their "best bet" and the Islamic regime "needs to seize that opportunity."
Obama's remarks, made during a White House news conference alongside visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, came on the heels of reports that the US had asked Russia to warn Iran the upcoming round of nuclear talks was its "last chance."
The US president has sought to intensify his tough-guy rhetoric vis-à-vis Tehran following warm words from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praising Obama’s “wise” foreign policy after remarks that undermined the credibility of US resolve to use military force.
Previously, Obama had chastized his potential GOP rivals in the 2012 presidential race for being too eager for an open conflict with Iran, saying “They are not commander in chief. When I see the casualness with which those folks talk about war, I am reminded of the costs involved in war.”
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and says it is not seeking an atomic bomb, has tentatively agreed to nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, known as the "5+1."
However, Israel, the United States, its Western allies, and Gulf Arab nations suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The International Atomic Energy Association has issued two reports in recent months indicating Iran has sought - and continues to seek - nuclear technology that has solely military applications.
It has also raised pointed questions about Iran's push to enrich its uranium stockpiles to 20% purity, a key jumping off point should Iran make a dash to enrich its uranium to the 93% needed for nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is enriching uranium to 20% in order to research medical isotopes, but proliferation experts note that Tehran is enriching far more uranium than is necessary for that purpose and does not have a sufficiently advanced medical research sector to support the claim.