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Iranian leader: It's good that Obama's not thinking war

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 8, 2012 -- Updated 1639 GMT (0039 HKT)
(file photo) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has criticized Barack Obama's threat to impose more sanctions on Iran.
(file photo) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has criticized Barack Obama's threat to impose more sanctions on Iran.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Obama's recent remarks are positive
  • But he criticized Obama's threat to impose more sanctions on Iran
  • Obama has said all options are on the table but has cautioned against military action

(CNN) -- Recent remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama that he is not thinking of military action against Iran are positive, according to Iran's supreme leader, Iran's state-run Press TV reported Thursday.

But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized Obama's threat to impose more sanctions on Iran, saying Tehran's enemies have been imposing repeated sanctions ever since the country's Islamic Revolution more than 30 years ago "in the hope of turning Iranians away from the Islamic establishment," the television network said.

The continued threat of sanctions demonstrates Obama's illusions on the issue, Khamenei said, adding that such a move will backfire on U.S. officials and fail.

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In remarks earlier this week, Obama made clear that the Iranian development of a nuclear weapon remains unacceptable, and that the United States "will always have Israel's back."

However, he told reporters Tuesday, that comment "was not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action."

It is "deeply in everybody's interests -- the United States, Israel and the world's -- to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion," he said of Iran's nuclear issue.

And in an interview with The Atlantic this month, Obama cautioned against an Israeli strike on Iran.

"At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran, and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?"

The president, however, has said all options are on the table regarding Iran.

"I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that, when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say," Obama told The Atlantic.

He told reporters Tuesday that sanctions already imposed on Iran are having significant effects. Tehran recently signaled a willingness to let U.N. inspectors visit a military base that some suspect is involved in the development of nuclear weapons, a move that could possibly ratchet down rising tensions

The question of how to address the Iranian nuclear issue has repeatedly been raised in the U.S. presidential campaign. Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has harshly criticized Obama for not taking a more aggressive posture toward Tehran, as well as for failing to speak out more prominently on behalf of anti-regime protesters in 2009.

Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful, civilian purposes, but the United States, Israel, and many other countries suspect it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

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