Obama: No Options off the Table in Holding Iran Accountable
(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said “we don’t take any options off the table,” in dealing with Iran, whose government he asserted Thursday was part of a plot kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, as well as Americans.
“Now, we don’t take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran,” Obama said. “But what you can expect is that we will continue to apply the sorts of pressure that will have a direct impact on the Iranian government until it makes a better choice in terms of how it’s going to interact with the rest of the international community.”
Obama made the comments during a joint press conference at the White House with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and compared Iran to another North Korea, both of which have nuclear ambitions.
“There is great similarity between how Iran operates and how North Korea operates -- a willingness on their part to break international rules, to flout international norms, to not live up to their own commitments,” Obama said. “And each time they do that the United States will join with its partners and allies in making sure that they pay a price.”
Obama did not specify what actions the U.S. would take, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday the White House would seek greater economic sanctions.
Two men, including a member of Iran's Quds Force special foreign actions unit, were charged in New York federal court on Wednesday with conspiring to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Abel al-Jubeir, at a Washington restaurant. Obama said that one individual “had direct links, was paid by and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.
“What we can say is that there are individuals in the Iranian government who are aware of this plot and had it not been for the outstanding intelligence work of our intelligence officials, this plot could have gone forward and resulted not only in the death of the Saudi ambassador, but also innocent civilians here in the United States,” Obama said.
“We believe that even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity,” he added.
“This is part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the Iranian government,” Obama said. In the past, Iran has been able to rely on China, Russia, and the United Nations Security Council to prevent some U.N. actions proposed by the United States and allies. Obama suggested that is over.
“When I came into office I think Iran saw itself as being able to play various countries against each other and avoid the kind of isolation that it deserved,” Obama said. “Since that time, what we’ve seen, whether it relates to its nuclear program or its state-sponsored terrorism, that more and more countries have been willing to speak out in forceful ways, whether through the United Nations or through other avenues, to say this is not acceptable behavior and it is having an impact.
“I mean, what we’ve seen is Iran’s economy is in a much more difficult state now than it was several years ago, in part because we’ve been able to unify the international community in naming Iran’s misbehavior and saying that it’s got to stop and there are going to be consequences to its actions.”
South Korean President Lee also weighed in on the matter.
“Recently, we were deeply shocked when we read the reports on the attempt to harm the Saudi envoy here in Washington D.C.,” Lee said. “I and the Korean people strongly condemned all forms of terrorism. And as you can see already, our two countries are working to bring peace and ensure stability around the world. We are partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are safeguarding our vital sea lanes off the coast of Somalia.”