News / Asia

Obama: China Considering New Iran Nuclear Sanctions

Kent Klein

While 47 nations attended Tuesday's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, much of the day's attention focused on two countries which were not invited-Iran and North Korea.  U.S. President Barack Obama says China, which has opposed further sanctions against Iran, is now sincerely considering them.    

President Obama says he is confident China will join other nations in pressing for tough new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.

At the end of the summit, Mr. Obama told reporters China has sent representatives to New York for United Nations sessions on drafting tighter sanctions.

Mr. Obama said he addressed Chinese President Hu Jintao's concerns about the possible effects of sanctions on trade with Iran.

"A lot of countries around the world have trade relationships with Iran, and we are mindful of that, but what I said to President Hu and what I have said to every world leader that I have talked to is that words have to mean something-there have to be some consequences," said President Obama.

Mr. Hu addressed the summit Tuesday, calling for effective measures to protect nuclear weapons and materials.  He did not mention Iran's program.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

President Obama said he wants sanctions against Iran approved on a timely basis.

When asked whether sanctions against North Korea are working, Mr. Obama said sanctions are not a magic wand.  But he said he hoped they would lead Pyongyang back to six-party talks on its efforts to build a nuclear arsenal.

"I do think that the approach that we have taken with respect to North Korea makes it more likely for them to alter their behavior than had there been no consequences whatsoever," said Mr. Obama.

The president said North Korea is hurting itself by continuing to acquire nuclear weapons.

"North Korea has chosen a path of severe isolation that has been extraordinarily damaging to its people," he said.

Iran, North Korea and Syria were not invited to the nuclear conference.  Syria is suspected by the United States and others of harboring nuclear weapons.

South Korea will host the next meeting, in 2012, and President Lee Myung-Bak said North Korea will not be invited to that conference unless it gives up its efforts on nuclear weapons.

The Washington summit was mostly concerned with the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.  

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