Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

G-8 Issues September Deadline for Iran

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

G-8 Issues September Deadline for Iran

Article excerpt

President Obama had more harsh words for Iran Friday in the wake of its contested election, warning the government in Tehran that the world is unlikely to wait beyond September for signs of cooperation on its nuclear program.

The president's comments came as street protests returned to Tehran on Thursday. And the apparently new, shorter deadline for the Iranian government to respond to the international community's offer of talks follows a flurry of speculation over Israel's plans for military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

At a press briefing wrapping up the G-8 summit in Italy, Mr. Obama said the G-8 leaders were moved to issue a statement by the Iranian government's "appalling" actions that followed the disputed June 12 presidential election.

The Group of Eight wealthy countries condemned the crackdown on protesters contesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection, and also called on the government to ease restrictions on news media.

But it's Obama's announcement of a September deadline that most clearly suggests a hardening of the US approach to Tehran.

On Friday, Obama insisted he has not given up on his preference for dialogue and negotiation, but he said the international community would not "just wait indefinitely" as Iran develops a nuclear weapon.

International leaders will review Iran's response at a September meeting of developed and developed countries in Pittsburgh, Obama added, and consider if further steps are required.

"[E]vents in Iran have given Obama the opportunity to mobilize the international community, and in particular the Europeans, to get with the sanctions that exist," says Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington. "He's also telling the Iranians: 'OK guys, there are things you are doing that are going to make it easier for me to get even tougher sanctions from the international community. …

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