U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the window for a diplomatic solution with Iran over its nuclear program was "shrinking," and he encouraged Tehran to seize the opportunity of talks with world leaders to avert "even worse consequences."
Obama, speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, insisted there is still "time and space" for a diplomatic solution, in lieu of a military strike to set back Iran's progress toward a possible bomb, but said "the window for diplomacy is shrinking."
"We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Obama said, adding that he had sent a message "personally" to the Iranian leadership that it should re-enter international arms talks in good faith.
"Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences."
Obama further stated that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran "would trigger a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world" and would raise issues that carry risks to U.S, national security interests."
Earlier Wednesday, the Kommersant daily quoted Russian diplomats as saying that the United States asked Russia to deliver an ultimatum to Iran, warning the Islamic Republic that it has one last chance for talks before a military strike.
According to the Russian newspaper, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in New York on Monday to tell Tehran that it has one last chance to solve the conflict peacefully by making progress in the talks with the P5+1 group - United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. Otherwise, an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities will occur within months, the diplomats said.
The report in Kommersant did not give further details regarding the kind of military action the U.S. was threatening, but quoted Russian diplomats at the UN as saying they believe that it is a "matter of when, not if" Israel would strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Last week, Clinton said that there is still space for diplomacy to resolve Iran's nuclear standoff with the West shortly after European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced that the P5+1 group agreed to restart talks with Iran. A time and venue of the talks has yet to be set.
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