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'Iran has shrinking window of opportunity on N-programme'

July 31, 2012 11:21 IST

Stating that the window of opportunity for Iran to reach a diplomatic solution over its nuclear programme is "shrinking", the United States has warned that it has all the options on its table to stop Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

"The policy of this administration has been that there is still a window -- a shrinking window, but still a window nonetheless -- for a diplomatic solution to be reached to resolve these concerns about the Iranians' failure to live up to their international obligations," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

"So we're going to continue to work in coordinated fashion with the international community, including with the Israelis. We have marched in lockstep with them, we've been side by side with them as they've confronted this threat, and will continue to be," Earnest said.

"All options do remain on the table. That's something that we've said all along, that continues to be the case. But right now, what we're focused on is taking advantage of this diplomatic window that remains open to pursue a solution that satisfies the world community and results in the Iranian regime living up to their international obligations," he said in response to a question.

Earnest said when Obama took office in 2009, the international community was splintered about how to confront the challenge of Iran and their aspirations for a nuclear weapon, while inside the Islamic republic there was unanimity among that regime that pursuing a nuclear weapon was the wisest course of action.

"Here we stand, three years later, because of the President's leadership on the international stage, he's marshaled international support and the international community is now presenting a united front to the Iranians about the importance of living up to their international obligations when it comes to their nuclear program," he said.

"This includes passing a resolution through the United Nations Security Council with the support of Russia and China. As a result of that Security Council resolution and other actions, crippling sanctions have been put in place against the Iranian regime that have resulted in the Iranian regime acknowledging the economic toll that those sanctions have taken, and have started -- and the Iranian regime is starting to exhibit some signs of dissent within the ranks," he said.

"So that change over the course of three years I think is notable, and thanks in no small part to the President's leadership on this issue," he said, adding that Mitt Romney, in one of the interviews, acknowledged something similar about the impact that economic sanctions were having on Iran.

"It's the president's view that those sanctions are taking an important toll and they are steadily increasing. This administration is going to continue to work both with our international partners as well as unilaterally to continue to pressure the Iranian regime to live up to their obligations when it comes to their nuclear weapons program," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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