'US preparing sanctions against Iran'

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Jerusalem, Sep. 11 (ANI): Following an apparently unyielding diplomatic engagement in Iran, the Obama administration is preparing the groundwork for sanctions against the Islamic country, two senior US officials have told Jewish leaders in Washington.

The Jerusalem Post quoted US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns, as saying that the Obama administration wants to lay the sanctions now, so that it will be ready to implement them at the end of the year.

US President Barack Obama has long backed diplomatic outreach, though he has also warned of the possible need for sanctions. He has given Teheran a deadline of September 24, when the G-20 nations will next convene, to evaluate Iran's response to his offers of engagement, the report said.

However, top White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross told Jewish leaders that the administration's focus on diplomatic engagement had shifted following the Iranian elections, and indicated that the White House now had a more sceptical view of that approach which could give way to sanctions, it added.

Top officials have spoken of imposing "crippling sanctions" should diplomacy fail, though that hasn't been fleshed out.

Both officials, addressing a forum of more than 300 Jewish activists in Washington to press for action on Iran, pointed to a wide menu of sanctions options beyond the narrower targeting of Iran's refined petroleum imports proposed in bills before Congress.

However, according to the paper, the White House and State Department didn't immediately respond to requests for confirmation of the two officials' comments. (ANI)

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