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US to Maintain Iran Sanctions

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, looks at US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as he speaks during a news conference at Government House in Melbourne, Australia, 08 Nov 2010

U.S. officials say Washington does not need a "credible military threat" to get Iran's attention and dissuade Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.N.-backed sanctions against Iran are hurting the country more deeply than anticipated. He told reporters during a news conference Monday in Melbourne, Australia, the U.S. remains confident that a political and economic approach will convince Iran to end its nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. and other Western nations accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear technology in order to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charges.

On Sunday, Israeli sources said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the U.S. sanctions have not hurt Iran enough to make the Islamist state rethink its nuclear program.

The Israeli prime minister met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in the southern U.S. city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. Netanyahu was quoted as saying a credible threat of military action is the only way to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has so far stressed sanctions and diplomacy as its preferred course in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

Also Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki raised the possibility of a new round of talks about its nuclear program, this time in Turkey.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the so-called P5 + 1, have been trying to kick-start talks, which have been stalled for more than a year.

Most recently, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposed a three-day meeting with Iranian officials in Vienna starting November 15. Iranian officials never formally agreed to any details.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.