Tom Donilon .
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's top national security aide said on Tuesday a US-led drive to isolate Iran had slowed its nuclear program and that there was still "time, space and means" to persuade Tehran to abandon atomic weapons ambitions.
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National security adviser Tom Donilon defended Obama's Iran policy in a wide-ranging speech following criticism by Republican presidential contenders that the administration had not done enough to thwart Tehran's nuclear advances.
His remarks may also serve as an appeal to Israel for more time to let Washington's strategy work. There has been growing speculation about an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites since a UN nuclear watchdog accused Tehran this month of covert atomic weapons work.
"Iran today is fundamentally weaker, more isolated, more vulnerable and badly discredited than ever," Donilon said at the Brookings Institution think tank a day after the United States, Britain and Canada slapped new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors.
He said that after Iran rejected the Obama's early diplomatic outreach and continued defying the international community, the United States had worked to ratchet up sanctions, strengthen military ties with Tehran's neighbors and increase it isolation.
"The effect of these sanctions has been clear," Donilon said. "Coupled
with mistakes and difficulties in Iran, they have slowed Iran's nuclear
efforts ... Not only is it harder for Iran to proceed, it is more
Despite those claims, Obama - like predecessors George W. Bush and Bill
Clinton - has been unable to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program
or come clean on its developments.