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Obama: Engagement, sanctions with Iran

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told an AIPAC audience that he favors both tougher sanctions against Iran and direct engagement. “The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” the Democratic presidential contender said Friday at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee event in Chicago, his first major address to the pro-Israel lobby. “It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.” Obama described his “tough-minded diplomacy” as including “direct engagement with Iran similar to the meetings we conducted with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War, laying out in clear terms our principles and interests.” It also would mean “real leverage through stronger sanctions.”The Bush administration, backed by AIPAC, favors only limited, multilateral engagement with Iran until that country achieves nuclear transparency.