US seeks to shore up support for tough Iran stance

February 15, 2010 14:48

DOHA, Qatar — US officials sought to shore up support Sunday for a tougher stand against Iran's nuclear program by saying Tehran had left the world little choice and expressing renewed confidence that holdout China would come around to harsher UN penalties.

Even as the Obama administration intensifies its diplomacy, Iran is showing little sign of bending to the will of its critics. Past UN sanctions have had little effect. Some outside experts have detected what they believe are new slowdowns in Iran's nuclear advances, but the Islamic republic is believed headed toward having nuclear weapons capability in perhaps a few years — estimates vary as to when.

US President Barack Obama's senior military adviser called for more time for diplomatic pressure to work and said from Israel, which has hinted that it might attack if negotiations to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions failed, that such action could have "unintended consequences" throughout the Middle East. Israel views Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its very existence.

While diplomatic patience has its limits, "we're not there yet," US Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Tel Aviv.

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