President Barack Obama says that sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime because of its failure to comply with its international nuclear obligations have significantly increased Iran's isolation from the world community:
"When I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was unified around its nuclear program. We now have a situation where the world is united and Iran is isolated. ... We have by far the strongest sanctions on Iran that we've ever seen."
They include four rounds of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and additional autonomous measures imposed by numerous countries, including the 27 members of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Korea, Switzerland and Norway. The sanctions are having an impact, said Mr. Obama:
"All our intelligence indicates that Iran's economy is suffering as a consequence of this. And we're also seeing that Iran's influence in the region has ebbed, in part because their approach to repression inside of Iran is contrary to the Arab Spring that has been sweeping the Middle East."
During the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii, President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao to discuss Iran. The meetings took place after an International Atomic Energy Agency report presented evidence that Iran had engaged in activities aimed at producing a nuclear explosive device up to 2003 and that some of these activities may be ongoing. The IAEA once again called on Iran to prove that its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful in nature.
President Obama said all three presidents agree on the objective of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and triggering a nuclear arms race in the region. He said over the next several weeks he would be consulting with China, Russia, and others about whether, in addition to the sanctions' regimen already established, there are additional measures that can be taken.
"Our strong preference," President Obama said, "is to have Iran meet its international obligations, negotiate diplomatically to allow them to have peaceful use of nuclear power in accordance with international law, but at the same time forswear the weaponization of nuclear power."