The White House reiterated on Tuesday it has not taken the military option off the table when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear arms but it is still committed to trying to engage Tehran. "While the president has talked about the notion that we shouldn't take specific actions off the table, I think the president was outspoken in the campaign about the desire to, at appropriate times, engage not just our friends but our enemies in discussing ways to reduce particularly the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, according to Reuters.
He spoke at a briefing with reporters in response to a question about whether military action might be the only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat.
Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama said he wanted to work with Russia to resolve the stand-off with Iran but denied reports he had offered to slow deployment of a missile defense shield in exchange for Moscow's help. The New York Times reported that Obama had sent a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting he would back off deploying a system in eastern Europe to intercept and destroy missiles.
"What I said in the letter is what I have said publicly, which is that the missile defense that we have talked about deploying is directed toward, not Russia, but Iran," Obama said after meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"And what I said ... was that, obviously, to the extent that we are lessening Iran's commitment to nuclear weapons, then that reduces the pressure for, or the need for a missile defense system," the American leader noted.