President Obama Stands Behind Iran Sanctions But Still Hopes for Diplomacy

President Obama applauded the sanctions passed by the United Nations Security Council against Iran for the country's nuclear violations saying they were the "toughest ever faced by the Iranian government." Iran has defied regulations from the International Atomic Energy Agency and previous U.N. Security Council resolutions by enriching nuclear fuel, insisting its actions were for civilian nuclear energy. The new sanctions prohibit Iran from investing in nuclear activities such as uranium enrichment abroad as well as undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles that would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Other countries are prohibited from selling or transferring to Iran weapons such as tanks, combat vehicles, military aircraft, warships or missiles as well as any parts or technical assistance related to these military items. Foreign countries must also inspect Iranian ships or planes should there be any doubt to the nature of the cargo.

Mr. Obama was criticized even while campaigning for the White House when he said he favored a diplomatic course of action with respect to Iran. Even with these tough sanctions in place, the President still believes diplomacy is a viable option for Iran's future. "These sanctions do not close the door on diplomacy," the President said in a statement made from the White House Diplomatic Room.  "I would like nothing more than to reach the day when the Iranian government fulfills its international obligations -- a day when these sanctions are lifted," the President added. 

Republican leaders say the Obama administration has taken the wrong road all along. "[T]he divided vote of the Security Council displays to Iran that the world is not united in dealing with its illicit conduct," Republican Whip Jon Kyl said in a statement release. "We are, in fact, in a far worse position than we were 18 months ago when the President started his diplomacy of appeasement and apology. It is clear the President's policy has failed," the Arizona Senator concluded.

Twelve Security Council members, including China and Russia, voted in favor of the sanctions while Brazil and Turkey voted against, and Lebanon opted to abstain.