KAPOLEI, Hawaii — Defending his efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, President Barack Obama said late Sunday that economic sanctions against Tehran have had "enormous bite," and that he will consult with other nations on additional steps to ensure that Iran does not acquire an atomic weapon.
The president, at a news conference that closed an Asia-Pacific economic summit, did not specifically say he would consider military action if Tehran were to persist in arming itself with a nuclear weapon. But he added: "We are not taking any options off the table. Iran with nuclear weapons would pose a threat not only to the region but also to the United States."
The news conference was Obama's first opportunity to address a report Friday from the International Atomic Energy Agency that provided new evidence that Iran's nuclear program includes clandestine efforts to build a bomb.
Obama expressed confidence that Russia and China in particular understand the threat a nuclear armed Iran would pose, and said their leaders agree that Iran cannot weaponize its nuclear power and trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.
In meetings Saturday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao, Obama sought to rally support for putting new pressure on Iran's regime. But there was little public sign either country was ready to drop its opposition to additional sanctions.
Obama, hosting the APEC conference in his home state, challenged China to let its currency appreciate more rapidly and to end measures that take unfair advantage of foreign intellectual property.
"It's time for them to go ahead and move toward a market-based system for their currency," he said.