Obama says talks under way on Iran sanctions

JENNIFER LOVEN | 11/18/2009, 11:55 p.m.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Thursday the United States has begun talking with allies about fresh punishment against Iran for defying efforts to halt its nuclear weapons pursuits.

Obama's tough talk came as Iran indicated it would not ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia for processing, the centerpiece of deal aimed at a peaceful resolution to Iran's contested nuclear program.

"They have been unable to get to yes, and so as a consequence, we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences," Obama said in a brief news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Obama did not get more specific about the nature of any new sanctions, which would require commitments of international support that are hardly clear yet.

On North Korea, both Obama and Lee signaled impatience and declared fresh, united steps in getting that nation to give up its own nuclear weapons.

Lee said Obama had rallied behind his idea for a one-time "grand bargain" with North Korea of aid and concessions in exchange for denuclearization, rather than the stalled step-by-step process. And Obama said his envoy would travel to the communist country early next month for the first bilateral talks with the regime since he took office.